Srinagar: The population of West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) has more than doubled since 1947 when they arrived in Jammu and many of them have managed to fraudulently acquire certificates that grant them the rights of permanent residents of the state, revenue officials said.
Currently, about 7453 WPR families consisting of 45549 souls live in various districts of Jammu province, a revenue official said on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
He said that in 1947, a total of 21979 refugees (4745 families) had migrated from Pakistan and settled in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts.
Rightwing Hindu organizations in Jammu have been seeking permanent resident status for the WPRs, while Kashmir-based pro-India parties and resistance groups have warned of serious repercussions if they are settled in the state, as they fear the Indian state would use them to undermine the Muslim majority character of J&K.
The issue came into prominence recently when a parliamentary panel recommended Permanent Resident Certificate and right to vote in Assembly elections for the WPRs.
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 officials remain tightlipped about these recommendations, a memorandum submitted to the Indian government in 2009-2010 by the state revenue department says that many refugees have illegally acquired the permanent resident certificates by fraudulent means.
“No serious effort seems to have been made by successive governments to tackle this issue of fraud certificates,” the memorandum said.
The document also reveals that most WP refugees have purchased land in various parts of Punjab but “kept their claim alive in Jammu and Kashmir as well”.
The revenue official said the department had requested the government to investigate into the fraudulent means WPRs use to acquire the PRC’s, but the government made no effort to do so.
The official added that many complaints are pending with the State Subject Commission, which has hardly indicted any of the accused.