Srinagar: The BJP said on Friday that it will go ahead with its plans for West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) and the people opposed to granting them permanent resident status and assembly voting rights are pushing the state towards a “division on religious lines”.
Professor Hari Om, a senior BJP leader and political advisor to the party’s J&K president Jugal Kishore, said, “We would give them all rights so that they can live with honour. BJP will not compromise on the issue of granting rights to them.”
Prof Om said there is “lot of anger” in Jammu against the way the issue of refugees is being “played up” in Kashmir.
The issue of WPRs has hogged the media limelight amid an emerging coalition between the People’s Democratic Party, which wants to preserve Kashmir’s distinct identify and special status, and the BJP, which has said it will accomplish Kashmir’s full integration with the Indian Union sooner or later.
However, according to Prof Om, the recommendations regarding rights of the WPRs “are the policy stand of the BJP” and these will not be “subjected to bargaining” with any potential alliance partner.
A couple of days ago, PDP chief spokesman Naeem Akhter said the issue of WPRs and government formation were not linked.
According to Prof Om, both PDP and NC have been “pushing Kashmiri dominance” during their discussions on government formation.
“It won’t be easy to prevail upon them. Like them, BJP has been democratically elected and it would protect the political aspirations of Jammu at all costs,” he added.
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 (PaK) besides a financial assistance of Rs 30 lakh per family.
The panel also recommended “de-freezing” of eight seats for displaced persons from PaK and reservation for both groups in the Assembly.
Union Home minister Rajnath Singh swiftly approved a few recommendations of the panel, including the one suggesting that WPRs shall be recruited in central paramilitary forces and a quota of seats shall be provided for their children in professional institutions like the children of Kashmiri Pandits.
While Hurriyat Conference (G) has warned of a “strong movement” if the recommendations are implemented, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat has called an “emergency meeting” of its executive members on Monday to discuss the issue. National Conference and PDP have pledged to “fight tooth and nail” any attempt to tamper with state’s demography.
Prof Om believes the demography of the state was not in danger if WPRs, all of whom are Hindus, are granted the permanent resident status and voting rights.
“Those refugees are living here since 1947. They are all settled in Kathua, Samba, and Jammu. How come, it would change the demographics of Kashmir when they are already here since past 70 years?” Om said.
He said if Tibetan Muslim refugees, who came to Kashmir during Indo-China war in 1962, could be “given rights”, why deny the same to WPRs, said Prof Om, while describing Kashmiri politicians, civil society and intelligentsia as “anti-Jammu”.
“They call Jammuites communal and always want Kashmir-centric politics. They are finding an excuse to bifurcate the state. If the situation remains the same, it can happen. This time Jammu would not succumb to the unwanted demands of Kashmir based politicians,” he added.