People who fled Jammu in 1947 can return: BJP

Srinagar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said on Saturday that it will not object to the return from Pakistan administered Kashmir and Pakistan of the people who had been forcibly driven out of Jammu in 1947.
“The people living in Pakistan occupied Kashmir are Indian citizens as per the Constitution of India as well as the resolution passed by Parliament. If they return to the state, BJP has no objection and it will not impact the party in any way,” BJP General Secretary (Organization) Ashok Koul said.
Koul’s statement is in contrast to the BJP’s stand on Re-settlement Act, which sought settlement of all refugees, commonly known as Muhajireen, in their native places in the state.
The bill titled Re-settlement Bill was introduced in the state legislature by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. After both houses of the legislature passed the bill, the government of India referred it to Supreme Court for opinion.
The apex court returned it after 20 years without amendments, thus making it an Act. However, the then BJP-led government refused to implement it.
It was challenged in the apex court by Panthers Party founder Bhim Singh. Since then, it is pending adjudication and the state government is contesting it.
Koul said the settlement of 60,000 refugees from West Pakistan cannot change the demography of the state.
“When we get back PoK the refugees can go back to their native places in Mirpur and Kotli where they own properties,” he said.
“The refugees living in POK and Pakistan can come back and stake claim to their properties in our part of the state,” he added.