STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Around One lakh West Pakistan Refugees settled in different parts of Jammu Region since 1947 have almost made up their mind to step out of Jammu and Kashmir if the government failed to address their long pending ‘humanitarian’ issue of granting them the citizenship rights.
The demand was put forth by the West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee before the Special Representative Dineshwar Sharma during their one to one meeting here at the Convention Centre.
Referring to their brief meeting with the Special Representative, Chairman of the West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee Labha Ram Gandhi said, “We made it clear to the Special Representative in tough words that if you people cannot grant us citizenship of the State we are ready to settle down at any other place in India”.
Gandhi said, “We told Sharma that we have been projecting our demand before everyone. But no one spared a thought for us. Whosoever visited the State always talked about Kashmir. We are struggling here for over 70 years now but we are still deprived of our citizenship rights”.
According to official sources, an estimated 19,960 families of West Pakistan Refugees are registered with the Revenue authorities in J&K.
The West Pakistani Refugee leader said, “We told Special Representative that India is a big country and take us anywhere you want to; we are ready to go. We also want to live in peace, harmony and dignity. We are proud citizens of India but nobody in J&K has accepted us till date”.
Every house hold of West Pakistani Refugee has 3-4 youth who are jobless and growing old in the absence of employment opportunities, Gandhi said.
Even after getting their identity certificates they have been denied caste certificates by the Revenue authorities in J&K, he said, adding, “They cannot get entry in the paramilitary/Defence forces in the absence of caste certificates”.
Gandhi also made a passionate appeal to the Prime Minister for expediting compensation package and granting them the voting rights. He said if the government failed to address their grievances their youth would be forced to take the same path as adopted by the Kashmiri youth. He said, “Kashmiri youth, who take up guns, are accommodated next day in the paramilitary forces and our youth would be forced to do the same if their aspirations were not fulfilled”.
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