New Delhi snubs state govt, asks West Pakistan refugees to carry out population survey

Srinagar: The government of India has rejected Jammu and Kashmir government’s data on the population of West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) in the state, and instead asked an organisation of the refugees to carry out population survey.
The refugees, who would be submitting the survey report in October, has found 20,000 WPR families so far in seven tehsils of Jammu region, said Lubha Ram Gandhi, who is the head of the WPR organization.
“We had some issue at Hira Nagar. But we will resolve it as well and complete the survey next month,” he said.
The organisation’s aim is to pressurise the central and state governments into granting WPRs the same rights as those of the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Gandhi, the Home ministry asked them to carry out the survey before seeking compensation and voting rights for the community.
“I was told by home ministry that we will get whatever logistical support we. But they told us to collect the accurate data on the number of families,” Gandhi told Kashmir Reader.
He quoted Prime Minister Naredndra Modi saying the refugees’ issue is a “humanitarian” issue and a package on the pattern of Kashmiri Pandits migrants would be announced after the survey report is submitted.
“There was some misunderstanding and we will resolve the issue during our government,” he quoted Modi as saying.
Gandhi said, “Rajnath Singh and home ministry officials tacitly agreed to giving a compensation of Rs 30 lakh to each family apart from other concessions such as voting rights during our meeting with them,” he said.
Gandhi claimed the petition filed by the RSS think tank over the constitutional validity 35 of (A) was basically to “pressurise” the state government into give voting rights to the refugees.
“The BJP is very serious to settle our issue and they will have to do it because we can defeat them in elections,” he said. According to Gandhi, a branch of home ministry organized seminars in New Delhi in August about our citizenship rights and he shared the plight of the refugees there as well.
He appreciated the State BJP leadership also for assuring them their “genuine” issues such as voting rights in Assembly elections would be granted.

WPR controversy
Organisation of WPR claims 5,764 families had migrated to Jammu in 1947
Assembly was told in the last session that 9,823 refugees had migrated to this side during the partition
WPRs cannot vote in the Assembly, civic bodies and panchayat polls, but can vote in Parliamentary elections
Early this year, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs recommended granting residency status to the refugees
Pro-freedom parties and National Conference have opposed permanent resident status for WPRs

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