Srinagar: Even as the state government has not officially allotted any land to the West Pakistan refugees, they continue to occupy 46, 466 Kanals and eight Marlas of state and Evacuee Property (EP) land in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the state revenue records, the West Pakistan refugees were allowed to retain both Agricultural and Paddy lands “under certain conditions” by the successive governments.
The records state that a refugee family could occupy up to 12 acres of Agricultural while 8 acres of paddy land. The documents testify that the West Pakistani Refugees have been holding 46466 Kanals 09 Marlas of State and evacuee property land which is currently in their direct possession under Cabinet Order No. 578-C of 1954
“Besides, some of these families have been cultivating the land of private land owners but no rights have been conferred on them due to their being Non State Subjects,”
Currently, about 7453 WPR families consisting of 45549 souls live in various districts of Jammu province. 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 status 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.