PoK Refugees Set To Get Relief For First Time In 68 Years

27 December 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After long wait of about 68 years, the refugees from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1947 followed by 1965 and 1971 etc will start getting relief with the beginning of next year as the State Government has written to the Centre to start release of Rs 2000 crores worth package for them announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 7. Top official sources told the Excelsior that the Government has shelved its initial proposal for constitution of a joint committee of Central and State representatives for working out mechanism on disbursement of relief to PoK and Chhamb refugees of 1947, 1965 and 1971 and has instead decided to go ahead with disbursement of relief on the basis of figures and data available with Revenue and Relief and Rehabilitation Departments of the State Government. 'While writing to the Centre to start release of Rs 2000 crores worth package for PoK and Chhamb refugees, the State Government has simultaneously asked Revenue and Relief and Rehabilitation Departments to come out with the detailed data of the refugee families and mechanism to be adopted for disbursement of relief,' sources said. The Government hoped to complete the process for working out number of the families eligible for compensation and mechanism to be developed for payment of relief within a period of one month after which the process for disbursement would start. The process (for distribution of relief) could start as early as February if everything goes well. The Prime Minister in his Rs 80,000 crores worth package announced for Jammu and Kashmir on November 7 had earmarked Rs 2000 crores exclusively for compensation to PoK and Chhamb refugees. Sources said the Centre was likely to release the amount in installments. The State Government planned to start disbursement of relief with arrival of first installment from the Centre. 'The Government of India has made it clear that further installments of the package would be released only after first installment was utilized and Utilization Certificates (UCs) were given to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which has been appointed as Nodal Ministry by the Centre, on distribution of package to the refugees in the State,' sources said. Pointing out that data of refugee families has been worked out, sources said the Government would devise a mechanism before payment of relief. The quantum of amount to be paid to the refugees would be categorized as there were some refugees, who had been given plots earlier by the Government while some others had got nothing. 'The relief would be decided taking into account the total number of refugees, who had come from PoK in 1947, 1965 and 1971 etc and the families, who had got some relief-either in the form of cash or plots and the families, who have not received single penny,' sources said, adding that the State Government can even claim more grant from the Centre if the target exceeds Rs 2000 crores as the State planned to pay handsome amount to the families. Sources noted that a number of refugees, who had shifted from PoK have died during the period. A separate mechanism would be worked out for their families on payment of relief. The PoK refugees of 1947, 1965 and 1971 etc would be getting relief after a long wait of nearly 68 years. Only few people had got plots on their migration while the rest got nothing except assurances from the successive Central Governments. The PoK refugees had long history of protests, constitution of Committees for their welfare and relief and assurances by Centre and State Governments. However, this is for the first time when any Centre Government has exclusively earmarked Rs 2000 crores for providing relief to them. The Centre has even assured the State Government that if the amount fell short, the State can ask for more funds but only after giving proper Utilization Certificates.