December 2016 News

BJP Leadership Breaks Silence, Vows To Back West Pak Refugees

26 December 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: Even as BJP ministers have maintained a 'guarded silence' on granting 'identity certificate' to West Pakistan refugees (WPRs) to avoid a confrontation with their coalition partner PDP, the party today broke its silence on the controversy and reiterated its commitment to restoring the constitutional rights of these refugees, who have been denied basic needs like education and healthcare since 1947. The BJP chose the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to break its silence on the issue but the party ministers, who are part of the coalition government with the PDP, haven't yet spoken on the controversy. The BJP leadership was forced to break its silence because the Congress as well as other pro-Jammu political and social groups had mounted pressure on the saffron party to clear its stand on granting 'domicile' or 'identity' certificate to these refugees. The BJP state general secretary (organisation), Ashok Koul, today cleared the party's stand on the issue, saying that it was not going to compromise on the humanitarian issue. While adopting an aggressive posture, Koul said that since these refugees had been living in different parts of the Jammu region since 1947, they had every right to stake a claim on citizenship like other residents of the state. He made it clear that the granting of rights to WPRs was purely a humanitarian issue and some political parties had launched a malicious campaign only for petty political gains. Koul also seized the opportunity to take those parties to task which had rendered indirect support to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar who were living on the outskirts of Jammu city. By breaking its silence on the ongoing controversy, the BJP has tried to not only counter its rivals' campaign but has also given a signal to its coalition partner PDP that the party was not going to compromise on the issue. The granting of citizenship rights to these refuges was part of the party's agenda in J&K before it formed government with the PDP. Even in the Agenda of Alliance, both coalition parties promised to take measures for sustenance and livelihood of the West Pakistan refugees. The BJP today organised functions at various places in connection with the celebrations of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's birthday. However, none of the party ministers who spoke at these functions touched on the ongoing controversy surrounding identity certificates to these refugees.