West Pakistan Refugees — Citizenship Rights
We are West Pakistan Refugees migrated to Jammu Division of J&K State in 1947 during partition of Indian and Pakistan but we have not been granted citizenship rights so far by J&K Govt. despite followowing:-
MHA’s wide ranging directions to J&K Govt on West Pak refugees
17 September 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued wide ranging requests-directions to Jammu and Kashmir Government to address long pending problems-grievances of West Pakistan refugees, who have been denied state subject rights here in view of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which barred ‘outsiders’ from owning property, applying for State Government jobs or vote in the elections excepting Parliament polls. 'The State Government has been requested to intimate actions taken by them on various observations made by the Supreme Court in its judgment, which had suggested that the Government may amend the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of People Act (RPA) and Village Panchayat Act (VPA) to enable the West Pakistan refugees to qualify for inclusion in electoral rolls of the State Assembly and Panchayats’’, an official letter of the MHA said. It added 'the State Government has been suitably advised in the matter (regarding grant of voting rights to West Pakistan refugees in Assembly and Panchayats and allow them to contest these elections) and had been requested to intimate the action taken in this regard’’. On providing employment opportunities to West Pakistan refugees in the State Government to which they were not entitled so far as they were not treated as permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, the MHA said this can be possible only if the Government made amendments in Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, which rendered a person, who is not a hereditary state subject, for appointment to any service under the State Government. The Central Government order said the State Government has been suitably advised on the subject. 'The West Pakistan refugees can also set up Small Scale Industries either from their own financial resources or by availing loans from banks without collateral security or third party guarantee under the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme. The official letter said the West Pakistan refugees can also apply for the Central Government jobs with age relaxation, which was applicable to residents of Jammu and Kashmir till December 31, 2013. Responding to a petition filed by BJP MP from Punjab in Rajya Sabha, Avinash Rai Khanna before the Rajya Sabha Chairman, the Union Home Ministry has said 46, 466 kanals (5808.25 acres) of State- Evacuee Property land has been retained by the refugees. The MHA observed that a proposal to allow the West Pakistan refugees to repair their houses, which have been constructed on Evacuee Property land was already under consideration of the State Government. Pointing out that 5764 families of West Pakistan refugees of 1947 had landed in Jammu province after partition of the country in 1947, the Government of India said the Supreme Court of India has already maintained that executive orders could be issued by the State Government for making eligible the children-grand children of the West Pakistan refugees for admission in educational institutions in Jammu and Kashmir and for this purpose there was no need to enact any legislation. 'For facilitating admission of children-grand children of West Pakistan refugees in technical educational institutions, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) had already issue separate guidelines, which provided for extensions in date of admission by about 30 days, relaxation in cut off percentage up to 10 per cent subject to minimum eligibility requirement, waiving of domicile requirement, permission to implement up to maximum 1 per cent supernumerary increase in intake to admit students of West Pakistan refugees and facilitation of migrations in second and subsequent years’’, the official order said. It added 'the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been advised to take up the matter with the banks and other financial institutions operating in the State, which were enlisted as Member Lending Institutions for providing coverage under the Credit Guarantee Scheme to the West Pakistan refugees. 'Under the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme (CGFS) for Micro and Small Enterprises, collateral and third party guarantee free credit is available to SSIs and Small Scale Service and Business Enterprises. The eligible credit facility under CGFS could be provided to refugees from West Pakistan settled in Jammu and Kashmir provided that credit was sanctions by the Member Landing Institutions such as J&K Bank Limited, J&K Development Finance Corporation Limited, Jammu and Kashmir Grameen Bank and Public Sector Banks, enlisted as MLIs under the Scheme. As per the available information, the State Bank of India (SBI) has sanctioned 70 loan cases during 2011-12’’. The MHA said the State Government has reported that provision of basic civic amenities in the areas of habitation of West Pakistan refugees was under their consideration. 'As far as Scheduled Castes among the West Pakistan refugees settled in J&K were concerned, they can’t avail the reserved quota in the State Government jobs in the absence of SC certificates. They can’t avail benefits under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes implemented in the State’’, the MHA admitted but said 'the State Government has been advised to cover the refugees from West Pakistan under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes and to issue SC-ST-OBC certificates and BPL card to eligible persons’’. On demand for compensation to West Pakistan refugees, the MHA said 'the West Pakistan refugees settled in India were granted compensation under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954. This Act has since been repealed. For this purpose, the State Government has been requested to furnish details of Government land and Evacuee Property land, which have been allowed to be retained by the State Government to each refugee family and details of assistance availed by these refugees from the then Ministry of Rehabilitation so that their demand of compensation after six decades of migration to the State could be examined’’.
Issue of citizenship rights for West Pakistan refugees in Rajya Sabha
Jammu, Aug. 20: BJP Member of Parliament & J&K Prabhari Avinash Rai Khanna has taken up in Rajya Sabha the issue of citizenship rights for the West Pakistan refugees and grievances of other categories of refugees.
Making a statement in the House to draw the attention of the Union Home Minister towards the plight of the refugees whose three generations have perished while demanding citizenship rights, said that these unfortunate people opted to come and settle into this part of the country during partition of the country on communal lines with the hopes of getting equal treatment in all matters and at all levels. These refugees were expecting to lead a dignified life alongwith their families but it is indeed very strange that their lives are very miserable and their voice has not been heard today even after 64 years of independence.
Avinash Rai Khanna also urged upon the Home Minister to understand the problems of the people who have been deprived of welfare schemes and right to vote and provision of availing loans etc. besides government jobs for their educated children. He said that the Union government should adopt a human approach, direct the state government to prepare a detailed report about their present status and take immediate and effective steps to grant them citizenship rights as they too are part and parcel of our society and the nation.
INDIA’S FORGOTTEN NATIONALS
Monday, 22 July 2013
Sixty five years on, refugees from West Pakistan who settled in Jammu, continue to feel helpless and abandoned. They deserve special attention, for their life is one of toil and penury and not of political and economic aspiration
The creation of Pakistan out of India in August 1947 caused displacement of population on an unprecedented scale. Thousands of Muslims migrated to Pakistan and millions of non-Muslims, including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, migrated from Pakistan to India to escape liquidation and save their dignity, religion and culture.
Those who migrated to India, barring Jammu & Kashmir, became full-fledged Indians and some even rose to such high positions as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Unfortunately, those who migrated to Jammu in 1947, continue to lead a wretched life even after 65 years of their stay in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Numbering approximately 1.5 lakh, an overwhelming majority of them is Dalit. They are Indian ‘nationals’ but not the ‘citizens’ of the State. They have neither the right to immovable property, to a Government job, to vote in the Assembly and local-bodies' elections, to bank loan nor even the right to higher technical and professional education. Of course, they have been participating in the Lok Sabha election since 1967, when the jurisdiction of the Election Commission of India extended to Jammu & Kashmir.
Indeed, since 1947 and till date, these refugees have held numerous demonstrations in Jammu and Delhi, organised long marches, courted arrest and exhausted all constitutional methods of agitation to obtain ‘citizenship rights’. Faced with official apathy, they even approached the Supreme Court in 1982, but failed to obtain justice because Jammu & Kashmir enjoyed special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Disposing of the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 7698 of 1982 on February 20, 1987, the Supreme Court said it was “unable to give any relief to the petitioner”.
The operative part of the judgement reads: “In view of the peculiar constitutional position obtaining in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, we do not see what possible relief we can give to the petitioner and those situated like him. All that we can say is that the position of the petitioner and those like him is anomalous and it is up to the legislature of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to take action to amend legislations, such as the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957, the Land Alienation Act, the Village Panchayat Act, etc so as to make persons like the petitioner who have migrated from West Pakistan in 1947 and who have settled down in the State of Jammu & Kashmir since then, eligible to be included in the electoral roll, to acquire land, to be elected to the panchayats, etc etc.
“This can be done by suitably amending the legislations without having to amend the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution. In regard to providing employment opportunities under the State Government, it can be done by the Government by amending the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Services, Classification and Control and Appeal Rules. In regard to admission to higher technical educational institutions, the Government may make these persons eligible by issuing appropriate executive directions without even having to introduce any legislation.
“The petitioners have a justifiable grievance. Surely they are entitled to expect to be protected by the State of Jammu & Kashmir. In the peculiar context of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, the Union of India also owes an obligation to make some provisions for the advancement of the cultural, economic and educational rights of these persons. We do hope that the claims of the persons like the petitioner and others to exercise greater rights of citizenship will receive due consideration from the Union of India and the State of Jammu & Kashmir. We are, however, unable to give any relief to the petitioner”.
Though the Supreme Court did not give any relief to the petitioner, it did suggest the ways and means of redressing the grievances of the refugees.
But neither the State nor the Union Government thought it desirable to act on the suggestions as contained in the judgement for obvious reasons, the most important being the oft-repeated argument of Kashmiri leadership that granting citizenship rights to the refugees would mean a change in the State’s demographic profile, erosion of its autonomous status and alienation of Kashmiri Muslims from India. Expectedly, the Union Government sided with the Kashmiri leadership overlooking the ‘human angle’. That attitude persists even today.
It may appear unbelievable, but it is a fact that the Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah-led Government in the State granted citizenship rights to numerous Uyghur Muslim families in 1952 and, settled them in the Eidgah area of Srinagar with full citizenship rights. The Uyghur Muslims migrated from Xinjiang province of China to escape Communist Beijing’s wrath.
The Government of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, which replaced the Sheikh Abdullah Government in August 1953, accorded similar treatment to the Tibetan Muslims who migrated to Kashmir in 1959 in the wake of the Chinese annexation of Tibet. They were also settled in the same locality with full citizenship rights. Tibet's leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, along with thousands of Tibetans, also migrated to India in 1959.
That the Kashmiri leadership would settle in Srinagar the Uyghur and Tibetan Muslims with full citizenship rights and make unjust, invidious and humiliating distinctions between them and the non-Muslim refugees from West Pakistan, establishes that its whole approach was communally-motivated.
The latest example is the ‘return and rehabilitation’ policy of the Union and State Government to induce Pakistan-based militants of Kashmir origin to return to the Valley, along with their families. Under this policy, nearly 271 Kashmiri militants — 117 with their Pakistani wives and children — returned to Kashmir via Nepal during the past 10 months and the process is on. The indulgent National Conference-Congress coalition Government recently ordered the State Education Department to “relax norms” to ensure admission of Kashmiri militants’ children in Government schools.
The State Government has conveniently ignored Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 2009 announcement to “keep one per cent special quota, 10 per cent relaxation on cut-off list and 30 days extra time after the closure of admission dates in technical educational institutes of Jammu and Kashmir for wards” of West Pakistan refugees.
Bemoaning the State Government’s negative attitude, president of the West Pakistan Refugees’ Action Committee, Labha Ram Gandhi, said that the State Government had been consistently refusing to “entertain our children”. “See our hard luck. We are Indians but not residents of Jammu & Kashmir. The Chief Minister has all the concern for the Kashmiri militants who are returning with their Pakistani wives and children, but he has not honoured even the Prime Minister’s announcement. Sixty five years on, we still remain refugees in this State. We have not been given permanent residents’ certificates and our children continue to suffer because of the apathetic attitude of the Government. We rue the day we migrated to this State, ” he lamented.
This is not fair. The refugees from West Pakistan deserve special attention and treatment. For their life is just one of toil and penury and not of political and economic aspirations.
What kind of democracy and secularism are we practising in which a section of our society has been deprived of all its natural rights just to pander to communal forces in the Valley?