Sunday, 1 February 2015

Regressive forces communalising the issue in Kashmir

JAMMU, Jan 31: At a time when secessionists and communalists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik and other perverted elements in the Valley, including those belonging to the defeated NC, have upped the ante and threatened a mass movement in the Valley against the joint-Parliamentary Committee recommendation that the refugees from West Pakistan be granted permanent residency status and right to vote in the state, two top BJP leaders - Nirmal Singh, elected MLA from Billawar, and Ashok Koul, general secretary (organization) - have extended their unflinching support to the recommendation. 

 On January 30, both the BJP leaders tore into those in the Kashmir Valley who have been working against the West Pakistan refugees and rubbished their claim that the grant of citizenship rights to these hapless refugees would change the demographic profile of the state. Both asserted that the issue was of humanitarian nature and it should be dealt with as such and it would be a sin against god and man if this issue is politicized and communalized for promoting regressive and anti-India politics in the Valley.

"They (West Pakistan refugees) have been living under miserable conditions for the past many decades and need to be rehabilitated. 

"We have Tibetian (Muslims) living in (Downtown area of) Srinagar. They have been given voting rights by National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. So I think on humanitarian grounds, the West Pakistan refugees must get their rights in the form of proper citizenship. 

Once they will have the citizenship, they would automatically be entitled to vote," Singh was quoted as saying. All these refugees, predominantly Dalits, have been leading a miserable life in various parts of the Jammu pro1947. Not a single refugee from west Pakistan lives in Kashmir, which has become the sole preserve of one particular community.

As for Koul, he took to task the communal forces in the Valley and accused them of "deliberately making the settlement of West Pakistan refugees a political issue to suit their political interests".

"This has nothing to do with demography of the State. Some parties have been advocating that people of Pakistan-occupied-Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK) should be allowed to travel to this side on visas. If that is not going to change the demography, how can settlement of some 60,000 people who have been suffering since past several decades, affect the State's demography?...They (BJP) would take the PDP on board before taking a final call on the issue," he reportedly said while defending the cause of the hapless refugees from West Pakistan.

That both Singh and Koul took an identical stand on the issue only suggested that the BJP is committed to empowering these refugees. It is hoped that the PDP would also share the view of the BJP and both the parties, which are all set to form the next government anytime from now, would work together and clinch this humanitarian issue in the manner it should be settled. Indeed, these refugees deserve special attention and care.

It needs to be noted that the Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah-led Government in the State granted citizenship rights to numerous Uyghur Muslim families in 1952 and settled them in the Eidgah area of Srinagar with full citizenship rights. The Uyghur Muslims migrated from Xinjiang province of China to escape communist Beijing's wrath. Not only this, the Government of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, which replaced the Sheikh Abdullah Government in August 1953, accorded similar treatment to the Tibetan Muslims who migrated to Kashmir in 1959 in the wake of the Chinese annexation of Tibet. 

They were also settled in the same locality with full citizenship rights. Tibet's leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, along with thousands of Tibetans, also migrated to India in 1959. 
Singh was right when he countered the spurious argument advanced by the communal forces in the Valley that the grant of citizenship rights to the refugees from West Pakistan will change the demography of the state.

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