Mirwaiz Umar For Joint Resistance Against Settling West Pakistan Refugees

By Maria Syed

Srinagar, Jan 12: A senior pro-freedom leader in disputed Kashmir valley Monday warned of an agitation if the federal government went ahead with its proposal to grant permanent resident status to Hindu refugees who settled in the state after their migration from erstwhile West Pakistan following the communal violence during Partition of Sub-Continent.

Mirwiaz seminar at Rajbagh office 4











Indian parliamentary standing committee on home affairs had earlier recommended giving ‘permanent resident’ certificate to hundreds of thousands of refugees from West Pakistan besides voting right for the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Umar termed the proposal as a vigorous effort to meddle with the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir to change the “facts on the ground” within the state.

The eventual aim, he said, is to subvert the right of self-determination of the people of the state and the forcible integration and assimilation of the internationally- accepted disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir.

A statement issued after a meeting convened by the leader at Srinagar said: “The APHC has resolved to reach out to all other pro-freedom parties, members of civil society and the legal fraternity in Jammu & Kashmir to mount a united, effective and sustained effort for the “Defence of Jammu & Kashmir”.

“We will also reach out to civil society in Jammu and Ladakh to join in this effort as it is their rights that are also under threat.”

Omar said that it was the purview of the Indian Parliament and Government of India to grant the West Pakistan Refugees Indian citizenship and any economic concessions or benefits it deems fit, but it has no legal standing or right to grant these refugees “Permanent Resident (State Subject) Status” in Jammu & Kashmir or any rights related to this status, such as the right to own land or immovable property in Jammu & Kashmir.

The eventual aim, he said, is to subvert the right of self-determination of the people of the state and the forcible integration and assimilation of the internationally- accepted disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir.

He added that opposing any such moves of giving permanent resident status to these refugees was not a communal mindset or Jammu versus Kashmir issue.

“Neither are they eligible to ever become “permanent residents (state subjects) of Jammu & Kashmir. This is a legal reality and has nothing to do with any communal mindset. The West Pakistan refugees have no right to Permanent Resident (State Subject) Status in the same way that the thousands of Tibetan Muslim Refugees who have been living in Kashmir since 1960 have no right to Permanent Resident (State Subject) Status in Jammu & Kashmir,” said Umar.

Cautioning the parties who he said were trying to divide and polarize the people of the state to desist from pursuing such dangerous agendas, Umar said: “Such moves are fraught with dangers. If carried out, such decisions will be regarded as no less than a direct frontal attack on the unique legal status of Jammu & Kashmir, on the protections that all citizens of Jammu & Kashmir (irrespective of religion or region) enjoy as permanent residents of J&K.”

He also opposed the BJP’s stated policy agenda to abolish the custodian department and to allot the evacuee properties to non-state subjects and others who are occupying their properties since 1947/48.

“Such a move is also illegal and would be a violation of the Right of Return which all those Kashmiris who were forced to migrate to the other side of the ceasefire line are entitled to. Nobody has the right to confiscate the property and dispossess any permanent resident (state subject) of Jammu & Kashmir of their lands, including those whose property is currently under the custodian department,” he said.

“The APHC expects all regional political parties whether inside or outside the assembly, which believe in the demographic integrity of the state to come out clearly against these moves and to ensure that the Kashmiri identity is protected.”

The issue has already kicked a row in the state with the region’s oldest political party, National Conference, terming the move as a “wicked conspiracy”.

“The recommendation that refugees from West Pakistan be permanently settled in the state is a wicked conspiracy to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir and alter its special status,” said Ali Muhammad Sagar, NC’s general secretary and MLA from Khanyar.

Earlier, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani said the recommendations are against the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and its special status.

Calling them a ploy to change the demographics of the state, the ailing leader said the recommendations will be resisted tooth and nail and a movement launched against it.

Pertinently, a similar movement was launched in Kashmir in 2008 after transfer of 800 kanals of forest land to a Hindu Shrine Board in Baltal area in south Kashmir.

The decision had to be rescinded in the backdrop of the agitation in which more than 60 civilians were killed in firing by government forces.



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