PM Promises To Solve West Pak Refugee Issue

7 May 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

New Delhi: Three days after BJP chief Amit Shah set a deadline of six months to address their long-pending demands, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today stepped in to provide some immediate relief to the West Pakistan refugees, who have been struggling since 1947 to get their basic fundamental rights in J&K. A delegation of the West Pakistani refugees, which met Amit Shah on May 4, was asked to extend its stay in Delhi because BJP leadership wanted to arrange its meeting with Prime Minister. The meeting was held today at 11.10 am. Undeterred by threats of Kashmir-centric socio-political forces, the Centre appears to be in a mood to initiate the process of solving the problems of the West Pakistan refugees, whose sufferings have been compounding with each passing day. The delegation is buoyed by the encouraging response from the Prime Minister. 'After going through our charter of demands, the Prime Minister issued on-the-spot directions to his staff to initiate immediate steps which the Union Government could take on its own for us,' said Labha Ram Gandhi, president of the West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee. Gandhi said the Prime Minister had assured a special recruitment drive for the refugees, besides a provision to ensure their regular recruitment in Central forces in future. Before the start of militancy in J&K, there was a provision of recruitment of West Pakistani refugees in the Central forces, but after 1990, they were deprived of the same because the successive state governments refused to give them domicile certificates despite living in Jammu since 1947. Lok Sabha member from the Jammu-Poonch constituency and state BJP president Jugal Kishore Sharma, who led the delegation, said the Prime Minister was aware of the inhuman treatment being meted out to the refugees by the successive state governments. 'The Prime Minister has promised to solve their problems in a stipulated time,' Jugal Kishore said. The meeting was fruitful and refugee leaders were satisfied, he added. 'There was no need to elaborate our demands at the meeting because the Prime Minister is aware of all issues pertaining to us,' Gandhi said. The response given by the Prime Minister has rekindled a ray of hope among us, he added. 'We told the Prime Minister that at the time of Partition there were 5,764 families and today, we have grown to 25,460 families. We have been living here for over six decades, but we don't have any rights. We are not citizens here. The future of our children will also be ruined,' he said. Recently, the Joint Parliamentary Committee had recommended granting citizenship and compensation to the West Pakistani refugees. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also made a similar promise in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. MPs Avinash Rai Khanna and Shamsher Singh Manhas were also present at the meeting with the Prime Minister.