West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee from Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday met Union Minister Jitendra Singh and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for granting them citizenship rights "after a long wait of over seven decades", according to the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
Labbha Ram Gandhi, President of West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee also submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister.
"During all these 70 years, our generation vshed/perished as we were denied nationality, caste and other certificates by the then Jammu and Kashmir government as they considered us aliens. Resultant, in absence of these documents we were unable to get admission in schools, colleges and professional colleges and did not have even the right to vote for the State Assembly. Various representations were made to the State as well Central government by our people but no heed was ever paid to our plight," read the memorandum.
The memorandum further stated that with the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A and conversion of Jammu and Kashmir from State to Union Territory of India, all the rights have automatically been bestowed upon helpless West Pakist refugees.
During a half-an-hour meeting with them, Singh said that it was not only a violation of constitutional rights but also a violation of human rights of these refugees, who were denied citizenship rights for 70 years just because they had chosen to settle in Jammu and Kashmir whereas two of their counterpart refugees, who chose to settle in other parts of India, went to become Prime Ministers namely Inder Kumar Gujral and Dr. Manmohan Singh.
"After PM Modi's courageous decision, now they will have the same rights as any other citizen of India and their children will get a level playing field in jobs and various other new opportunities being made available by the Modi government," he said.
In another memorandum submitted by Sarpanch, Panchayat HalqaTreva, Balvir Kaur and Councillor Arnia on behalf of the Border SanghrashSamitiArnia, the Modi government was thanked for giving reservation to the people living along International Border (IB) on the same lines as for the people living along LoC (Line of Control).
"The crucial role played by Union Minister Dr.Jitendra Singh in getting this decision was especially appreciated. In addition, it was pleaded that the Union Territory government should be asked to come forward with some more relief measures for the people living along the International Border," read the release.
"Considering the constraints of the border people, it was requested that the Union Territory government could consider sanctioning a Degree College in the area and certain other facilities as well," it said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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