Now, MHA says West-Pakistani Refugees in JK not being issued Domicile certificates

Syed Junaid Hashmi

Jammu

Western Pakistani Refugees
Western Pakistani Refugees (KL file Image)

Contrary to the claims of the state BJP, Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday said that Jammu and Kashmir is not going to issue domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees registered with it.

The union home ministry today said in the Rajya Sabha that the PDP-BJP government of Jammu and Kashmir has reported that there is no such proposal at present to grant domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees. Response of the Union Home Ministry compounds the confusion since the state BJP has been vehemently calming that domicile certificates are being issued to the West Pakistani refugees while PDP has been denying the same.

The PDP-led government has been saying that it was not granting domicile certificates to West Pakistan Refugees and the settlers were instead being issued identity cards, after protests against the reported decision peaked in the state. The government is saying that a “false and contrived impression” was being created over the change of status of WPRs and reports on granting domicile certificates were being “deliberately” spread to hit the political-economic interests of the people.

The WPRs, settled in Jammu and Kashmir, are citizens of India and have the right to vote in parliamentary elections. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. They do not enjoy voting rights to state assembly and local bodies. The refugees from Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) have the status of the permanent residents of the state; those from West Pakistan are not entitled to permanent residence as they are not the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir.

WPRs can’t apply for jobs in the state, being non-state subjects. The government had claimed that to facilitate their applications to get work in the paramilitary forces and other central government establishments, the state government has issued them identity certificates, which is in the same format as in the voter list for parliamentary polls. President of West-Pakistan Refugees Action Committee Labha Ram Gandhi said that they are not demanding domicile certificates.

“They are rightly saying so. We don’t want domicile certificates but state subject certificates. 70 years is too long a time to demand domicile certificate,” said Gandhi. He added “We are planning to hold a sit-in outside the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence in New Delhi.  The entire community of West-Pakistani refugees will not leave the residence of Prime Minister until he does not decide where he intends to settle us.” We have exhausted all our energies and now we cannot tolerate this non-serious attitude of the central government, Gandhi said.

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