Now, PoK Refugees Demand Seats In Assembly
18 August 2005
The Indian Express
Jammu: After the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, the refugees of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are now seeking reservation in the State Assembly.The first major effort in this regard was made by SOS, an organisation which has taken up the cause of refugees of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). SOS members will be meeting Prime Minister Manohan Singh in Delhi on Wednesday. The organisation has, in the past as well, raised the demand for seats to PoK refuges in the J&K Assembly. The organisation is hopeful that its meeting with the Prime Minister will prove fruitful. The members are also planning to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the near future to put this demand before her. 'We have a population of over six lakh across the country, but we do not have even one representative of our choice in the Assembly. We are demanding that a proportionate eight Assembly seats be filled out of the migrated PoK population,' said Rajiv Chunni, chairman of SOS. The issue was highlighted when the organisation drew attention to the 24 Assembly seats of the area under Pak occupation. There are in all 111 Assembly seats in the undivided Kashmir. However, at present, elections are held for only 87. The remaining 24 are left vacant. 'This is because the Indian government is of the view that PoK is part of our country and will be reclaimed. That's why these seats are left vacant in the State assembly,' said Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma. SOS is demanding that one-third of these vacant seats be created as 'segments in exile'. 'It is shocking for us that our government is opening roads to PoK, but nothing has been done on our issue in these 58 years,' said Yashpal Gupta, vice-chairman of SOS. 'The state and central governments even challenged the J&K High Court direction to the state government to give the ownership status to evacuee tenants,' he added. The issue of the miseries of PoK refugees and political reservation was also raised in the Lok Sabha recently. 'The Prime Minister has promised to set up a committee to look into the matter and also solve our other problems,' said Rajiv Chunni.