September 2005 News

Refugee In J&K - A Hapless Lot

11 September 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Prof Virender Gupta

Jammu: Jammu region has remained a settling ground for refugees and other outsiders. During Sultanate period in the late 14th century number of Hindus fled from Valley to save themselves and their religious faith from the terror of sword and forced religious conversion. Afgan rulers in the 18th century also committed heinous atrocities and forced the Hindus to take refugee in Jammu region. Even during the period of Dogra ruler, Maharaja Pratap Singh, floods, famine, epidemic and other natural calamities forced many Hindus and Muslims to leave Valley for good and settle in Jammu region, particularly in Doda and Rajouri districts. Also in the Medieval period of History number of Gurjar (now known as Gujjars) and Rajput families migrated to Jammu region from Rajasthan. After 1947 the people from Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur districts occupied by Pakistan got uprooted. None of them was allowed to settle in the Valley. Most of them took refugee in Jammu province apart from settling in the rest of the country. Whereas, even though, India defeated Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 wars the people from Chhamb had to suffer migration and leave their native land. There are three types of Refugees in J&K State:- a) Those migrated from Pakistan occupied part of Jammu & Kashmir State, in 1947. b) Those migrated from Pakistan areas adjoining to J&K in 1947. c) Those evacuated from some villages of Chhamb area in 1965 war and displaced from Chhamb after this area was handed over to Pakistan under Simla Agreement of 1971. Refugees from Pakistan occupied J&K These refugees belong to Mirpur, Poonch and Muzaffarabad districts of J&K. All these refugees are Hindus and Sikhs and non- Kashmiris as such were not allowed to settle in the Valley even though Muzaffarabad district was part of Kashmir province before 1947. The estimated population of these refugees presently settled in Jammu province is about 10 lakh. Almost 4 lakhs have settled in rest of the country. They belong to newly designated Pahari sect and speak Pahari -Pathwari language which has resemblance with Dogri and Punjabi language. The commonly known PoK (PoJK) refugees were provided only with interim relief. The claims that were due to them for their settlement in India have not yet been given after 58 years of partition and they have constantly been pleading their case to all the Governments that were formed at State & Central level since then and to all the political parties. The reason for this is that India considers POJK as part of Jammu and Kashmir that accessed to India and as such it is a part of Indian State. How long they have to wait, only God knows. These refugees have not been provided any special package either by State or Central Govt. for their absorption in Government service or for entering into any private venture to earn their livelihood. The refugees who left behind all their property and other valuables in POJK and also left behind their loving members of family who were massacred by Pakistani Army and Kabalies were not given proper care by Govt. of J&K and Indian Govt. Instead, they were treated badly. They were left to the mercy of God to earn their both ends meet. The main crisis before these refugees is loss of their identity and culture. They are a scattered lot, spread across the length and breadh of the country, though majority of them are putting up in Jammu province. Some of the refugees have been allotted custodian land. In the present political scenario and the developing situation there are apprehensions of losing the custodian property allotted to them. The Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, Resettlement Act permits any of the Pakistani citizen to stake his claim on the property that he or his ancestors have left behind in Indian part of J&K State. It is time that Govt. should fulfill its commitments to these hapless refugees and address their genuine demands. The main demands are:- *The monthly income of Rs. 300 per family for making ex- gratia payments be removed and the family who have not been given interim relief be provided ex-gratia payments. *The refugees who could not apply for relief because of unavoidable circumstances should be provided the opportunity to apply and should be given the ex-gratia relief. *The J&K Govt. should implemented the package of Rs. 47 crore sanctioned by the Govt. of India in the year 2000 and should be paid to the POJK refugees at the earliest. * These refugees be treated at per with the Kashmiri migrants and seats be reserved for their wards in the professional institutions in the country. *Those occupying the evacuee property should be given complete rights of the properties occupied by them. * As 24 Assembly seats in the J&K State Legislature are reserved for the Pakistan occupied part of Jammu & Kashmir State and as the refugees from Pakistan occupied are not being provided the compensation for the property, they left behind, on the plea that POJK forms the part of India, atleast 6 assembly seats be provided to the refugees who have migrated from POJK in 1947. *All the claims with regard to the compensation of the properties left behind by the refugees and their displacement because of creation of Pakistan should be immediately settled. It may be submitted that Mirpur City, at present is submerged in water and acting as a water reservoir in the Mangla Dam Project of Pakistan. *The refugees holding accounts in J&K Bank at Mirpur and Muzaffarabad, before accession of J&K State to India should be paid their balance amounts along with the interest accrued. All records are available in the bank. Refugees Migrated from Pakistan These refugees are at present putting up in the areas adjoining India and Pakistan Border right from Jorian to Kathua. Their population is about 2.5 to 3 lac. They have been denied State Subject benefits of J&K State as they are not considered as citizens of J&K State. They cannot own property, cannot get Govt. jobs and cannot get any other benefits that accrue to the citizens of the State. They cannot vote for State Legislature elections. Inspite of repeated promises made by the respective political parties they have been denied citizenship of the State. In the last Parliamentary elections Congress made a promise for granting them State-Subjectship but so far nothing has moved in this direction. These refugees and their wards are denied even the employment in the Central services such as in the police department which are meant for the residents of J&K State. There are instances when some of them have shown extra-ordinary courage in locating the infiltrations and some time killing them, but those brave men of the community were not even provided job in CRPF inspite of promises to do so. There is no law in any of the country of the world which denies citizenship to its residents after residing there for a period of about 60 years. This is a naked injustice and violation of human rights of the people. The Govt. of India must realize the hardships that these refugees are facing because of not getting citizenship rights of the J&K State. It is the duty of the Govt. of India and the State to see that these refugees are permanently settled in J&K State and be given all the rights of a bonafide State-Subject of Jammu & Kashmir State. If need be the rules be amended to provide justice to these refugees. Chhamb Refugees A total of about 4600 families were displaced in 1971 from Chhamb under Simla Agreement as under this agreement most of the area of Chhamb was given to Pakistan. As such there are about 2.5 lac refugees from Chhamb. Most of these refugees were farmers. They were settled along the border line from Akhnoor to Kathua district. They were not provided full quota of land as per the prescribed scale of the State Revenue Authority to the land that they had left behind in Chhamb. The monetary compensations paid to them were meagre and not sufficient to build up shelter for their residence and make these people to earn both ends meal for their families. The Chhamb Displaced Persons Rehabilitating Authority constituted by the Govt. of India in 1974 was disabanded in 1990. About 600 families of the displaced persons have been left and not provided any compensation so far. The Chhamb refugees want that adequate compensation to them be paid and some quota for in the Central and the State services be reserved for them. They should be provided incentives and support to manage their livelihood. The various issues pertaining to Chhamb displaced persons are:- *The displaced persons were not provided adequate land as per the prescribed scale of the J&K Revenue Authority in compensation to that they left in Chhamb. The monetary compensation given was far less to build a shelter to live in. In most of the cases the land provide was not worth cultivation so that they can earn both ends meals. * They have not be given occupancy tenancy rights over the Evacuee land allotted. *Ownership rights on State land allotted to the Chhamb displaced persons have stringent condition that if the land allotted is acquired back by the Govt., they would not get any compensation. *Chhamb Displaced persons who were earlier, before their displacement residing in one Niabet (Tehsil) have presently got scattered in 129 basties (localities) in 5 tehsils. Being small in number in these localities they do not receive proper attention of the Govt. in its development project. There is serious threat to their identity and culture. *The Chhamb displaced persons who were earlier residing on or near the cease-fire line were getting 4% reservation in the J&K State services and in professional colleges. This has been withdrawn and they are not now being provided any reservation that is given to those residing on LoC. It is a sorry affair that the problems of various categories of refugees have not been addressed by the State Govt. and Central Govt. also did not take interest in resolving the issues. One is bound to think that as all the refugees are of minority community of J&K therefore, their problems were not solved and they were allowed to suffer particularly when it is a known fact that policies of the State Govt. have always remained oriented towards Kashmiri Muslims. It is a sad commentary on the policy of the secularism and commitments towards social justice that are claimed to be pursued in Indian democracy. It is need of the hour that Govt. of India should appointed a special committee to attend and resolve long pending issues of refugees in a time bound schedule. Their sufferings be not further prolonged and remain unattended.


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