West Pakistani Refugees deserve immediate relief and rehabilitation for sustenance. With JPC recommending substantial measures, a hope is created for people exiled for 67 years.
A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) including ten members from the Rajya Sabha, has strongly recommended Permanent Resident Certificate and voting right for the West Pakistani Refugees (WPRs) and Rs 30 lakh package per family of the WPRs and Displaced Persons (DP) from Pakistan occupied J&K (PoJK). The 31-member Committee, reconstituted on September 1, 2014 and headed by its chairman P Bhattacharya, has also recommended that the Government of India should take up the matter of de-freezing of 8 seats for the PoJK DPs with the J&K Government keeping in view the problems being faced by the DPs. It said that the Ministry may impress upon the State Government to make amendments in the State Constitution, if necessary at the earliest. It also sought reservation for the WPRs and PoJK refugees in the Upper and the Lower House of the J&K Legislature.
WPRs of Jammu & Kashmir will get
-Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC)
-Rs 30 lakh package per family of the WPRs and DPs
-Admission for children in Kendriya Vidyalaya (KVs) in the state
The Panel expressed its serious concern that the West Pakistan Refugees, who are very much citizens of India and eligible for voting in Parliamentary Elections do not possess the voting right in the State Legislative Assembly Elections, on the pretext that they are not permanent residents of the State in terms of J&K Constitution. The Committee strongly recommended that the Central Government must impress upon the State Government to consider, as one- time measure, the demand of West Pakistani Refugees to grant them the status of permanent resident of the State sympathetically so that they can live as state subjects in a dignified way, with all legal rights including right to vote in State Assembly. The panel also desired that PoJK DPs who are living outside the State should also be granted PRCs and a nodal officer may be appointed in Delhi for grating them Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) as being done for the Kashmiri migrants. The JPC stressed that citizens of India must have the right to elect and get elected in all the representative bodies to enhance the strength of democracy. WPRs should get permanent resident status sooner for fostering complete faith in democracy. The committee, therefore, recommended that Union Ministry of Home Affairs may pursue with the State Government to examine the issue of reservation of seats in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council of the State for the WPRs and if necessary, may move for the necessary amendment to the J&K Constitution. Besides this, the Panel recommended de-freezing of eight seats for the PoJK DPs in the Assembly.
The JPC felt that that rehabilitation assistance has been awfully insufficient with very poor track record of implementation. It is of the strong opinion that assistance being provided to PoJK DPs of 1947 must be sufficient for sustenance and therefore, the ‘sufficient interim relief’ be given immediately till the finalisation of one time compensation, which according to the Government is being incorporated in the package. The Committee agreed that since PoJK DPs are the citizens of India and also permanent residents of the State, their mere displacement cannot make them refugees as such. Government may, however, consider the benefits and other packages as admissible under the law. On Wadhwa Committee report, the JPC members said that report was submitted to the Govt. in 2007 and it was not made public. The report cannot be kept pending for indefinite period. The Committee therefore, recommended that Union Government should take up the matter with the State Government to expeditiously consider and implement the recommendations of Wadhwa Committee report within six months. The Parliamentary Panel has also recommended creation of separate battalion in State Police, Army and Paramilitary forces from among the WPRs and DPs from PoJK and Chhamb, official registration of DPs of 1947, Constitution of Welfare and Relief Commission/ Development Board for them. A Parliamentary panel has expressed serious concern over the restricted voting rights of west Pakistani refugees and observed that they must have the right to elect and get elected in all representative bodies to enhance the strength of democracy.
-Yajin Bhatt , (Courtesy: jknow.org)