Prime News, National (New Delhi), August 14:- West Pakistan Hindu refugees, whose ancestors had migrated to India during the 1947 partition and settled in the Jammu region, were feeling stateless and cheated even after seven decades of living in Jammu and Kashmir.
Now with the scrapping of Article 370 and 35A, which prevented them to settle permanently and own property, will automatically become the residents of this state.
Both Articles accord special rights and privileges to residents of Jammu and Kashmir only.
“Earlier, we were residents of India but not of Jammu and Kashmir. With the scrapping of both statutory provisions, we will automatically become the residents of Jammu and Kashmir too,” Labha Ram Gandhi, President of West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee, said here on Tuesday.
After 72 years of India’s Independence, he said the West Pakistan refugees got natural justice. “We can proudly say now – – we have got freedom from slavery,” an elated Labha Ram, 57, whose parents migrated during the Partition, said.
The population of the West Pakistan Refugees is nearly 1.5 lakh, settled only in the Jammu region in the erstwhile state.
They say they are entitled to vote in Parliament elections but not in the State Assembly before the abolition of Article 370. Also, state laws prohibit them from buying the property and to get government jobs.
Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his bold historic decision, the refugees say the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A would certainly end decades-old discrimination against them by entitling them to get full citizenship rights.
Labha Ram Gandhi said their demands for rehabilitation and right to vote and to contest the State Assembly or local bodies would be accepted automatically now.
In 2017, West Pakistan refugees had challenged Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order of 1954, in the Supreme Court.
He said that the West Pakistan refugees have been seeking conferment of basic natural and human rights.
“We have migrated from Pakistan to India in 1947. At that time our people were assured that they should stay in Jammu and Kashmir on the assurance that they would be granted permanent resident certificates (PRC), which would allow them to purchase properties and get a government job,” he said. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).