WPRs Warn of Mass Agitation if Not Settled Within or Outside JK

After being denied job quota in paramilitary forces, West Pakistan Refugees living in JK warned of massive agitation if not settled within or outside JK by November.

Published: 15th May 2015 09:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th May 2015 09:20 PM   |  A+A-


Refugees from the Dras sector prepare rice under a tent in a makeshift refugee camp about 70 kilometres north-east of Srinagar. (AFP)

SRINAGAR: After being denied job quota in paramilitary forces by central government, West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) living in Jammu and Kashmir have warned of massive agitation if they are not settled within or outside the State by November this year.

“No separate proposal is under consideration of the central government to recruit the children of WPRs in paramilitary forces,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha on April 13, a week after a representative of WPRs accompanied by saffron party MPs including State BJP chief met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in national capital.

West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee (WPRAA) president Labha Ram Gandhi told Express that during his meeting with PM on May 7, he informed him about the problems and sufferings being faced by WPRs, who are living in J&K since 1947 without being granted State’s permanent residency.

According to him about 24000 WPR families are living in the State. However, State government says only 9,823 WPR families are living in the State.

The WPRs have not been granted J&K citizenship. Besides, they don’t have right to vote in Assembly and local-bodies elections, can’t own property, don’t have right to higher and technical education and are not entitled to state government jobs.

Gandhi said besides demanding permanent residency for WPRs, he also urged PM to grant reservation in jobs in central paramilitary forces for the refugees, who are not entitled to J&K government jobs for not being State subjects.

“We used to get jobs in the Central forces until violence erupted in the state.  Now along with voting rights in the Assembly elections, we are denied jobs in Army, BSF, CRPF and ITBP,” he said.

Expressing disappointment over central government’s decision not to provide job quota for WPRs in paramilitary forces, he said “We are being denied our due rights despite being citizens of the country.”

“It is unfortunate that refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar can live in India but WPRs, who are Indian citizens, are being discriminated with,” he said.

“We have given options to both J&K Government and central government to either settle us in J&K with all amenities or in other parts of the country,” Gandhi said adding they would be more than willing to settle outside J&K if granted all amenities.

Terming denial of rights to them as worst kind of human rights violation, he said, “We have been at the receiving end since past 68 years. Nobody else in the world is facing problem like us. Infact the Hindus, who did not migrate from Pakistan in 1947, are living a much better life than us”.

Gandhi said the WPRs have given a time till November to J&K coalition government to solve their issues including granting citizenship rights to them.

“If by the end of November, the government fails to grant us permanent residency and other amenities in J&K or settle us outside State, then we would be forced to launch a massive agitation and government would be responsible for all its repercussions,” he said.

Urging State and central governments not to push the WPRs to the wall, Gandhi said, “Kashmiri youth took to guns in 1989 after all roads were closed for them. Had they got jobs and other amenities, the situation would have been different in Valley today and the youth may not have taken to guns”.

“Till now WPRs have been following the path of peace. We have been holding our men doing anything harmful. However, we cannot prevent them from long,” Gandhi said.

“If PDP-BJP government is not interested in granting us citizenship rights, then they should tell central government clearly to settle us in other parts of country rather than playing politics on over problems,” added (WPRAA) president.

However, State BJP chief spokesman Sunil Sethi, said the saffron party is working out a plan for settlement of WPRs in the State.

“It is a 67-year-old issue and can’t be resolved in 2 months,” he said referring to PDP-BJP government, which took over reigns of the State in March this year.

Sethi said the party is working on the issue with all seriousness and trying to do whatever possible can be done for the WPRs. “Infact, some work has already been done in this regard and WPRs need to show patience. Providing employment to them is top priority of the party.”

BJP  in its manifesto for 2014 J&K Assembly elections had promised granting citizenship rights and right to vote in Assembly and right to state government jobs to the WP refugees.


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