Assembly: ‘Why Can’t West Pak Refugees be Sent Back like Afghan Refugees,’ asks Rasheed

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

SRINAGAR

Western Pakistani Refugees
Western Pakistani Refugees (KL file Image)

Independent lawmaker representing Langate assembly constituency in J&K Assembly, Er Sheikh Ab Rasheed Saturday asked PDP-BJP Government to send the West Pakistan refugees back to their native country.

Speaking during the debate on grants to Revenue department, Rasheed said, “over 5 million Afghan refugees lived in Pakistan. They were given everything by Pakistan but they returned to their native country later,” Rasheed told the lower house, “why can’t West Pakistan Refugees be sent back in a similar way?”

Rasheed asked the PDP-BJP combine to talk to Union government over the issue. “When other things can be sorted out with Pakistan why can’t West Pak Refugee issue?” he asked.

Cautioning government granting land or state subject to West Pakistan refugees, Rasheed said, “they are guests; not more than that, They won’t be given any land or state subjects here.”

Notably, over three lakh West Pakistan refugees are staying in Jammu region since the partition of sub-continent.

Partition-Agenda-Cover-Page-Design-by-Malik-Kaisar-Pic-Bilal-Bahadur

Asserting that locals should be involved in making return of Kashmiri Pandits successful, Rasheed said that government has failed to make return of even KP family possible. “Take locals in confidence,” he told the government, “it should be an issue of ego and interests.”

“Hurriyat Conference has a role and they should be involved in the process; evolve a consensus and KP return will be only then possible,” he said.

Observing that those who return from Nepal to their homes in this part of Kashmir, Rasheed said, “those who shun militancy are living a miserable life. Same is the case with jail returned militants.”

He asked government to make a comprehensive rehabilitation program for them. “They are respected citizens of the same land,” he said.

Asking government to get the land freed from army and other agencies, Rasheed asked the Revenue ministry, “either free the land occupied by army or get the rent from them.” He also said that sealing of rent needs to be increased.

Lauding Omar Abdullah led NC-Congress government for creation of new Administrative Units, Rasheed said that many genuine areas from his constituency were left out. “There was a committee led by Khurshid Ganaie. Please seek the report of that committee and get those areas included and create admin units.”

While, Rasheed was speaking, a few lawmakers were seen moving from bench to bench in the house.

Intervening, deputy speaker, Nazir A Gurezi, asked them to get back to respective seats. “Sir, lawmakers can move and sit with colleagues here but they can’t speak from those seats,” Forest Minister Ch Lal Singh told the chair. “If they want to speak, they will have to speak permission first unlike what they can do from their own seats.”

Gurezi, however, told the house that lawmakers need to “maintain disciplce”. “Aap darbaar kartay ho aur jo MLA bolta hai, us ski speech zaya hoti hai,” Gurezi said. “When we can’t maintain disciple, how come we expect same from officers sitting here and other galleries,” he said pointing towards public and media galleries.

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