June 2016 News

Nothing Concrete Done By BJP Govt: Refugees

6 June 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: The patience of 'stateless' West Pakistani refugees, who had voted in support of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is running out as during the last two years nothing concrete has been done to address their woes. The promises made by BJP leaders from time to time to these refugees - a majority of whom are Dalits - are yet to translate into action on the ground. 'For the last two years, we have been shuttling between Delhi and J&K but nothing has been done on the ground because the Centre and state governments are putting the onus of solving our issues on each other,' rued Labha Ram Gandhi, chairman of the West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee (WPRAC). 'With a hope that the BJP will address our genuine issues on a priority, we voted overwhelmingly in support of the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but due to the pressure of separatist groups and Kashmir-centric parties, the Centre could not dare to take any bold step to solve our problems,' Gandhi said. He added that they had now lost hope from the BJP also because except 'lip-service' nothing concrete had been done during the last two years. As these refugees are debarred from getting jobs in the state government, they approached the Centre to ensure recruitment of their youth in Central paramilitary forces and the Army. 'Due to the intervention of the Centre, the Army authorities have agreed to recruit refugee youths but instead of Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs), now we have been asked to produce 'nativity' certificate,' Gandhi said, adding that despite directions from the Centre, the state authorities had even refused to issue the said certificate to refugees, who had been living in Jammu since 1947. The West Pakistani refugees, living in Jammu region since 1947, are agitating to get citizenship rights, but the Kashmir-centric political groups are vociferously opposing their demand taking excuse of special status being granted to this state. 'We hoped that the BJP will take some effective steps on ground to address our issues as the party is in power in the Centre as well as in the state,' Gandhi said. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls in J&K, the BJP had promised to grant citizenship rights to these refugees, but it remained only on papers so far.