I know the questions that would come to the mind of readers is "Who are West Pakistan Refugee"? What have I to do with them and Why should I be bothered to read this post? Well, I would request to keep patience and read the brief history to the origin of the Term "West Pakistan Refugee".
The origin of the term West Pakistan Refugee lies in the era of Partition when the then ruler of J&K and the citizen's council decided to stay as a sovereign state. Meaning neither pledging the sovereignty to India or Pakistan. India accepted it, but the Pakistan did not and the Pakistani Army (From West Pakistan**, now Pakistan) invaded the State of J&K when after a lot of Political Drama (not of much concern to this post) Indian Armed Forces entered the state of J&K to assist them against the invaders. Interestingly the Lines were drawn dividing the State between PoK and the State of J&K in India. The actual Line of Control or LoC was agreed between the Political establishment of the two countries. But what happened to the people living there? A Mass Exodus happened from the PoK region to the state of J&K in the Indian Territory. These were majorly the Migrant Kashmiri Pandits or the Other Hindu Castes and Hindus from the Sialkot area of current Punjab Province in Pakistan, who had to leave their homes and migrate to Indian territory to save themselves from the atrocities of the Pakistani Army. This was the first lot of Migrants who were called West Pakistan Refugees. With the subsequent wars between India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, more migrants from PoK moved to Indian territory.
These migrants from the state of J&K live in the state of J&K as well as the Indian territory as Refugees. What a Shame!!!! The State of J&K as well as Central Government has not done anything to help the cause of these Migrants over the period of last 65 years. Irony of the entire case lies in the fact that the Migrants are Citizens of India, but they live as a Refugee in their own state of origin, what can be more painful than that? What can be the more shameful that the state where their ancestors had been living all their life, treats them as Refugees. there are close to 1.2 million and more such cases where the state treats them as the Refugee and the Central Government's stand point is "They are not Refugees because they belong to PoK which is very much part of the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic of India".
What can be more Shame that these 1.2+ million Indian citizens Most of them being Hindu refugees from West Pakistan, settled in Jammu, have a right to vote in the parliamentary polls. But they have no franchise for the assembly, municipal or Panchayat polls because they are not considered the state subjects of J&K. The height of Political Drama in J&K can be well guaged from the fact that in February 2007, the J&K Legislative Assembly rejected an important bill giving that was motioned in the legislative Assembly to give these Migrants the right to become citizens of the State. The rationale given (mind it in 2007) was that the issue needs to be discussed in the appropriate forum.
It is really shocking that the fellow citizens, who have the right to vote for electing MPs and who have the right to contest election (Labha Ram is one such person who contested election for Lok Sabha as an independent) have no right to vote in state assembly, panchayat or municipal elections? What kind of Governance are we talking about? The person living in a state for past more than 60 years can't purchase a house or is not granted even the basic rights of citizenship stating that there needs to be "Appropriate Forum". Is this the state of affairs with the Government of J&K? And if that was not it, these Migrants (I have been using Migrants because I can't call my fellow countrymen as Refugee) were not even considered when the Interlocutors were discussing the state affairs with various parties. They were just left stranded as they have been for years? Why? This is just a too hard hitting fact of Indian Democracy.
Imagine if you migrate from Maharashtra to Gujarat and you are told since you or your ancestors have not been living in the state for more than specified period of time before so and so date, you are not eligible to the rights of citizen in the State of Gujarat, or for that matter any other state. How ridiculous that would be? how would you feel? Try to put yourself in those shoes and try to feel the pain and the pinch our fellow countrymen have been bearing up with for past almost 65 years. They need their Basic Rights conferred to them by the State of J&K and the Central Government has to ensure that this is taken up with utmost urgency. If that means that the Article 370 (incidentally which has no relevance in today's electoral government scenario and which was formulated considering J&K as the Princely State) needs to be abolished and the State of J&K be brought at par with other states, the Govt. of India should take steps towards it.or so
As I write this post, I read from my the news sources and learnt it from few of my friends that approximately 2000 fellow citizens who have been suffering because of a draconian stance from the J&K Government and 'NO' Support from the Central Government have started a march to GHERO the Parliament in Delhi to highlight their plight and get support from the fellow countrymen, I would request you all to extend your support and support them in their cause. Before you make a comment on them being "Idiots", please mind, it could be you tomorrow in some other state where you might be mistreated. However, this is the case where they are mistreated in their own Home and in their own home they are rated as Refugee or a Second Grade Citizen, even when they are conferred with the Citizenship of Our Country.
I have my full support to my fellow countrymen in their pursuit. Hope to see your Support for them pouring in.....More the Merrier!!!
जय हिंद |
**Note - During the Partition of India, Pakistan had two portions - East Pakistan (Bangladesh) to the East of India and West Pakistan (Currently Pakistan) to the West of India.
***Note - The Post has been written with the facts compiled from various sources including the newspaper clips from time to time. if you find there are certain data mismatch, please feel free to highlight them in your comments to the post.