Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani said on Friday that a “strong movement” will be launched if West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) are granted voting rights and permanent residency in the state.
A parliamentary panel has recommended Permanent Resident Certificate and right to vote in Assembly elections for the WPRs and displaced persons (DPs) from Pakistan-administered Kashmir besides financial assistance of Rs 30 lakh per family.
The panel also recommended de-freezing of eight seats (of the 24 seats reserved for other Kashmir in J&K assembly) for displaced persons from PaK and reservation for both groups in the Assembly.
Geelani, who has been under house arrest for almost four years now and currently in New Delhi for treatment, said the government of India has started implementing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s “plan to reduce Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir into a minority”.
Geelani said the Hurriyat does not oppose the permanent residency of the displaced people from PaK because legally they are state subjects.
“But refugees from West Pakistan are not the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Legally, they are the permanent residents of India and they will be never be allowed to become the permanent residents of the state,” Geelani said in a statement.
The veteran pro-freedom leader said granting voting rights to about 5 lakh WPRs is an “attack on the state’s constitution”. He said the return of about 15 lakh Kashmiris” who have migrated to PaK and Pakistan and whose properties have been usurped by “communal people” in Jammu has never been a topic of discussion, nor have their properties been freed of “illegal occupation”.
Working on the parliamentary panel’s recommendations, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh had directed paramilitary forces that WPRs settled in Jammu and Kashmir, who are Indian citizens and have valid voter IDs, shall be considered for recruitment without asking them to furnish Domicile Certificate (DC). The paramilitary forces seek DC at the time of recruitment. But since these refugees are not state subjects, the state government issues only voter ID with non-permanent residency status to such people.
Rajnath has also asked the state government to resume issuing the DC to WPRs, while Kendriya Vidalayas have been asked to accommodate the children of such WPRs. Union education authorities have been asked to extend to the children of WPRs those concessions available to the children of Kashmiri Pandits for admissions in technical and professional institutes outside J&K.
In the past, any concession to WPRs has been viewed by the majority community as a ploy to undermine its already stunted political standing and the state’s special status within the Indian Union.
NC, PDP vow to defend special status
National Conference spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said the state subject laws, which bar any Indian from becoming a permanent resident of J&K, were non-negotiable. He said his party will resist “tooth and nail” any “overt or covert effort” to dilute the special status of the state.
Any recommendation or resolution passed by Parliament will have no bearing on the state which has its own constitution, Mattu said.
“The state subject laws are for indigenous residents of Jammu and Kashmir. And the same laws can’t be extended to the West Pakistan Refugees,” Mattu said. The NC will not object if the government rehabilitates or provides jobs on humanitarian grounds to the refugees, Mattu said.
Won’t accept unilateral decisions: PDP
The People’s Democratic Party, which emerged as the largest pro-India political party in the state in the recent assembly election, said that no unilateral decision will be acceptable to the party.
“They can’t issue PRCs to the West Pakistan refugees in a hush manner. We will not allow it to happen. We will resist any such move,” said PDP’s chief spokesman Naeem Akhtar.
Settle them in India: DeM to RSS
Dukhtaran-e-Millat chairperson Syedah Aasiyeh Andrabi said the RSS should settle the WPRs in India if it was worried about their welfare.
“We will never allow Kashmir to be transformed into another Palestine. They have settled so many non-state subjects in J&K till now but they want to give it a legal cover so that Muslims are reduced to a minority,” Andrabi said.
She has asked all pro-freedom groups, Bar Association and Muslims of the state to unite or be prepared “for a future like that of Palestine”.