For the last 59 years Hindu refugees from Pakistan have been living in Jammu and Kashmir without democratic rights. For them equality and democratic values?enshrined in the Indian Constitution?are nothing but a ?farce? in Jammu and Kashmir.
At the time of Partition, when Hindus were being massacred, Beli Ram had migrated to this side with the hope that in a secular and democratic India, future of his family would remain secure. But, he along with thousands of other West Pakistani refugees had darkened the future of his generation as they have not been granted the citizenship rights since then.
Neither the Indian establishment nor the national and international human rights organisations have taken care of these hapless refugees.
It is a mockery that around four lakh refugee families are still deprived of their fundamental rights.
Victims of discriminatory inhuman attitude of the successive state and central governments, these displaced people from Pakistan held a demonstration in the heart of the city with chains around their necks and on their wrists.
Hundreds of refugees from Samba, Kathua, Bishna, RS Pura, Jammu and Akhnoor tehsil of Jammu region gathered at Press Club, Jammu, with placards demanding permanent resident status in Jammu and Kashmir state.
Krishan Singh of Malpur, Akhnoor, was eight years old when he left Pakistan in 1947 to settle in this side of Kashmir. But now, he has lost hopes that thousands of 1947 refugee families will get permanent status.
As a mark of respect to the National Flag, these refugees hoisted tricolour and sang national anthem before taking out the protest demonstration in the city of temples.
It is pertinent to mention here that according to international laws, a person who has been putting up in a state for more than 20 years, should be guaranteed its citizenship. However, these refugees are not being given citizenship rights even after 60 years of their migration to this side while the country, which they had left at the time of Partition, is also not ready to accept them again because of their being Hindus.
The successive state governments in J&K betrayed them and continued to deprive the community of their basic fundamental rights. Once they decided to leave the state and settle in Punjab but Shiekh Mohammed Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of J&K, intervened and assured them of citizenship rights. But the assurance remained an assurance and never turned into reality.
During the past, hardships of these refugees have multiplied as they are now being deprived of the services in central government departments also. As the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police and Army have introduced the state subject clause in eligibility criteria for the J&K aspirants, future of these refugees? children has further darkened.
Patience of these refugees has been running out as successive governments have done nothing except making promises to restore fundamental rights to these displaced people. ?During the last 59 years we have got nothing but promises?, rued Shri Labha Ram Gandhi, president of the West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee
?We had stayed for nine months and continued a dharna at Boat Club, New Delhi from August 12, 2005 to May 19, 2006. The dharna was lifted only after the Union Home Minister had promised to grant basic rights to us?, he recalled but to added that it seemed that politics has played upper hand.
Shri Gandhi regretted that the present Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had also promised to look into their grievances but till date nothing concrete has been done.
Hari Ram, an old man, said he was 26 years old when he escaped from the holocaust against the Hindus in Pakistan in 1947 and settled down in Rangpur Sidhriya village on the Indo-Pak border in the Jammu constituency.
Giving the historical background of the displacement of the families, he said at the time of their displacement, Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah asked them to stay here to which the central government also agreed upon. But due to the constitutional restrictions they have not yet been granted the state subject status thereby denying them of opportunity of employment in government offices, property rights and other facilities.
Persons who are not permanent residents are second-class citizens in the state. Despite being citizens of India, they do not have equal rights in several matters.
BJP state president Dr Nirmal Singh, who was leading the protest rally, told the reporters that West Pakistani refugees of 1947 have been deprived of their basic rights by the successive governments in the state. ?All the government promised that refugees of 1947 will be granted the permanent status but these promises have never been implemented by the successive governments, right from 1947,? he added.