In what could be termed as a major embarrassment for BJP, Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday announced that it has no plan to grant permanent citizenship to West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) settled in the State. “5764 West Pak refugee families have settled in Jammu and Kashmir. They came from the area which later became West Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947,” J&K’s Revenue Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari informed Legislative Assembly in response to a question by independent legislator Er Sheikh Abdur Rashid.
The minister said the PDP-BJP coalition government in the State has no plan to grant permanent resident status to WPRs because they are not permanent residents of J&K. He informed the lawmakers that no West Pakistan refugee has been appointed in any government department of the State. “West Pakistani refugees are not considered for appointment against any State government post because they are not permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir,” the minister said.
He, however, was quick to add that WPRs are citizens of the country. The minister’s revelation is a big embarrassment for PDP’s ruling alliance partner BJP. BJP during electioneering for 2014 Assembly polls had said if the party comes to power in the State, it would provide State’s permanent resident status to the WPRs. Giving figures of the refugees living in the State, Bukhari said apart from 5764 families of WPRs, 31,619 displaced families of Pakistani administered (PaK) of 1947, 3500 families of Chamb refugees of 1965 and 4600 families of Chhamb refugees of 1971 (camp) besides 1965 families of Chhamb refugees 1971 (non-camp) are residing in Jammu region of the State.
“All the displaced persons, who got displaced from PaK being a part of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir are permanent residents of the State,” the minister said. He said displaced persons of PaK of 1947, 1965 and 1971 (camp and non-camp) are eligible for appointment to any state government posts or any democratic institution like panchayat, Legislative Assembly, Legislative council, Rajya Sabha and Parliament.