MUZAFFARABAD: Refugees from Kashmir Valley staged a protest demonstration here Monday seeking their permanent settlement and implementation of quota in jobs and admissions in professional colleges.
The protesters threatened if their demands were not met within a month they will stage a protest demonstration in front of the Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) Legislative Assembly for their rights.
Over 35,000 people migrated from Indian Kashmir in 1989 and are living in the Chela Bandi makeshift camp. The protesters blocked the Neelum Valley road for traffic and chanted slogans for their rights. Some of the refugee activists addressed the protesters.
“We have sacrificed everything for a noble cause and don’t want to see our children crying for jobs, identity and residence,” Raja Izhar Khan, one of the speakers said.
“We have been raising the issues of six per cent job quota, increase in monthly stipend and permanent settlement with the state as well as federal governments. Both have failed to solve our problem and it seems that they are not serious in addressing our plight,” he said.
Chairman of Pakistan’s Kashmir Committee Maulana Fazlur Rehman on his recent visit to Muzaffarabad had met with the refugees and “pledged to increase their stipend from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000 per refugee,” said Haji Sarandaz Butt, another leader while addressing the protesters.
Tashfeen Arif, one of the protesting women, told local reporters that the PaK government is giving the refugees Rs 50 a day which, she termed a joke and tantamount to rubbing salt to the injuries. “How can a person manage two times meal in that amount,” she said, saying “We are living in tents for the last 24 years and nobody from government has visited our camps”.
She said that PaK government has funds for 29 ministers, nine advisers and more than 60 public relations officers (PROs) while they cannot afford to increase the stipend of the Kashmiri refugees.—Agencies