True to their nature, separatists in Kashmir and the Opposition parties have joined hands to oppose the PDP-BJP government’s decision to issue Domicile Certificate to West Pakistan Refugees living in Jammu and Kashmir.
Syed Ali Geelani, the leader of Hurriyat party, started to oppose the decision with full gusto with his favourite dialogue of “this is against the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir” and “this is a ploy to change the demographics of Kashmir”.
Other parties have joined the rally started by Hurriyat.
West Pakistan Refugees are those ill-fated 5,764 families who were forced to escape Pakistan in 1947 due to communal violence. This means that they arrived before Article 370 was imposed on the state.
Over the years they have grown to 31,619 and live in poor living quarters in Jammu.
But without being citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, these families can’t own land, apply for jobs and cannot enjoy the same privileges as other citizens.
They can vote but only in Lok Sabha elections, not J&K elections even though they live in J&K.
To eliminate these constraints and ensure that the refugees enjoy a respectful life, the Union government has made special provisions like facilitating admission to their wards, bank loans without mortgages and various vocational training courses for the youth, among others.
But separatists say that the decision to provide permanent domicile certificates to these families is an “anti-Muslim” conspiracy.
The Separatists allege that it is a conspiracy to change the demographic composition of the Muslim majority state.
In a statement, the Separatists threatened that they can take the usual course of violence.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir will not hesitate to offer any sacrifice to oppose such actions tooth and nail. Settling them in Jammu and Kashmir will jeopardise and erode its historical and political contours, which is not acceptable to us at any cost.”
The state government, on the other hand, expressed disappointment with the Separatists who are trying to create another wave of instability in the state.
Naeem Akhtar, a PDP leader said, “Earlier this year also, controversies were stirred and public passions raised deliberately on tenuous issues like Pandit colonies and ex-servicemen colonies, which ended up with a long spell of disorder and violence in Kashmir resulting in loss of so many precious lives, injuries, destruction of public and private properties, breakdown of academic system, torching of schools, ruining of economy and complete halting of developmental process.”