Wednesday, 5 March 2014
MP calls for British Kashmiris to be recognised on census
A Labour MP has called for British Kashmiris to be formally recognised on the national census.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk told the Commons that, according to various Kashmiri organisations, "around one in four British Muslims are of Kashmiri origin".
He said: "That is one quarter of the British Muslim population who live in our communities, who pay taxes and contribute to our economy."
Speaking during an adjournment debate, he said: "But the true accuracy of this statistic can never be known as there is no official documentation of their ethnicity in the census."
He suggested by failing to include them on the census the Government was helping to "strip away" their sense of national identity.
"Many Kashmiris have an incredibly strong sense of ethnic identity, they do not want to be counted as Pakistani or Indian, because this is not how they think of themselves," said Mr Danczuk.
"Is it right for us as a democratic society, built upon the differences of the many, to help strip away the identities of the few?"
Following 1991, the number of ethnicities included in the consensus doubled, reinforcing the UK's commitment to diversity and ethnic opportunity, MPs heard.
Mr Danczuk's request amounted to "a very small box on a very big form".
He said: "I understand that neither the Indian nor Pakistani governments may be overjoyed by the United Kingdom Government recognising the Kashmiri identity as valid.
"I am strongly of the view that we should not let our own domestic arrangements be dictated to us by our desire to keep other countries happy."
He said inclusion in the census would send a strong message that "just because they are British, it does not mean that they are not also Kashmiri".
Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd replied: "At this stage, it is too early to know whether or not there will be another census in England and Wales in the form that we have previously known, or what questions might be asked.
"But you may be reassured to know that any questions on ethnicity in any future census will be based on a comprehensive programme of consultation and testing, to ensure that it will meet users' requirements, be acceptable and understandable to respondents."