Provide relief, end plight: PoK refugees

Sumit Hakhoo

Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 19

Post the revocation of Article 370 from J&K, the Central government has upped the ante by giving repeated statements on retrieving Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoK). However, lakhs of PoK refugees want the government to first address their problems.

Although elated that in decades any Central government is on the ‘offensive mode’ to deny Pakistani propaganda machinery rake up the Kashmir issue at world forums, refugees from Mirpur, Poonch and Muzaffarabad, Kotli and other areas under the occupation of Pakistan since the 1947 war say Prime Minister Narendra Modi should politically empower them.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister S Jaishanker had said, “It (India) expects to have physical jurisdiction over the territory (PoK) one day”. Before that, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had given similar statements.

In the old J&K Legislative Assembly, 24 seats were freezed for residents of PoK. For decades, there were demands for de-freezing at least eight of these reserved seats as per the proportion of their population but it was never implemented.

As per the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Home Affairs tabled in Parliament on December 22, 2014, there are 31,619 families registered with the Rehabilitation Organisation, Jammu, of which 26,319 families are settled in J&K while 5,300 families live outside the state.

“In 2015, a relief package was announced but it has not been fully implemented. Extending property rights to those allotted the custodian property should be the first priority,” said Surjit Singh, whose grandfather had survived the massacre.

BJP Sharnarthi cell member Ashok Khajuria said the Modi government had a plan.

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