There comes a time when the hour of the dispossessed comes. It has dawned in the valleys and mountainsides of Kashmir. The first efforts of the NDA government were focused on returning the persecuted Kashmiri Pandits to their homes and homeland from where they were brutally expelled through rapine and pogroms. Next, help appeared on the horizon for the disenfranchised Hindu and Sikh refugees who had crossed over to Kashmir from Pakistan in 1947, whose rights have been taken up by the BJP during its election campaign, both for Parliament and the state. Now, the Narendra Modi government is focusing on Hindu OBCs and tribals from the hilly areas of Jammu, and making efforts to reinstate and return them to their roots, which they abandoned when both Kashmiri and Pakistan-trained terrorists trained their guns on them.
Over 5,000 families have migrated from Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch and Rajouri, fearing militants operating from isolated hideouts situated in the high mountain ranges. The cruel irony is that the relief package and schemes for resettlement of Jammu migrants are negligible when compared to the packages offered to displaced Pandits. During the Congress-led UPA rule, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had rejected a proposal to correct this variance, saying the “position in respect of the migrants from the Jammu region is qualitatively different from that of the migrants from the valley”. After years of demand against the step-motherly treatment from successive regimes, the Modi government has taken up the cause of Jammu migrants—partly also to consolidate its saffron party base in the state ruled by BJP-Peoples Democratic Party coalition headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
From late last year up to this month, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been conducting several discussions on the plight of the Jammu & Kashmir migrants, especially focusing on their return and rehabilitation. Home ministry officials informed him that though they are entitled to similar aid given to Pandits who fled terrorism, the ubiquitous red tape has denied the Jammu migrant families their dues. The minister has asked officials to speedily work out a proposal to correct the mistakes made by successive governments at the Centre.
A home ministry note sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in the first week of July revealed that the ministry has finally formulated a plan and is giving final touches to the Cabinet note proposing a financial package to Jammu migrants on the pattern of a similar package offered to Kashmiri migrants.
“Home minister has approved that in the first phase, the migrants of the hilly areas of Jammu division may be provided cash relief at par with the Kashmiri migrants,” the home ministry note stated.
At present, the cash relief Kashmiri migrants get is Rs 2,500 per head per month per family with a cap of Rs 10,000 per family per-month. In addition, the government provides dry rations in the form of nine kg of rice and two kg of wheat flour per person per month along with one kg of sugar per family each month to the eligible 18,250 Kashmiri migrant families living in Jammu and 3,385 families in Delhi and the National Capital Region. The home ministry, under the head of security-related expenditure, bears the entire expenditure of the relief package. On the other hand, Jammu migrants are getting merely Rs 400 per person with a maximum Rs 1,600 per family each month from the state government.