PRC Issue Puts Govt In Tight Spot

PRC Issue Puts Govt In Tight Spot

7 January 2013
Greater Kashmir
Arvind Sharma

Jammu: The issue of granting Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC) to West Pakistan refugees is set to snowball into a major political controversy besides bringing coalition partners Congress and National Conference (NC) head-on, as the government Monday made it clear that it has no plans to bring any constitutional amendment in this regard as the West Pakistan refugees are not residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Rebuffing its coalition partner Congress on granting Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC) to West Pakistan refugees, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Sagar Monday said; “Anybody was free to bring a Bill in the legislature in this regard, but the government has no plans to do it on its own.” “As far as amendment is concerned, anyone can bring the Bill,” Sagar said but hastened to add, “Where is the two thirds majority that is required to amend the constitution?” “West Pakistan refugees are not the residents of Jammu and Kashmir and as such there is no question of giving them PRCs”, Sagar said, when his attention was drawn towards the statement of a Congress minister in this regard. “Granting PRCs to West Pakistan refugees doesn’t come under the ambit of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir as they are not the residents of our state’, Sagar added. He also said that it is an issue which comes under the purview of Government of India and therefore, the onus lies with the central government to settle the issue. However, he added that the Chief Minister had already expressed his concern about the problems being faced by the West Pakistan refuges ever since they had been displaced. “In this regard CM has already requested the Government of India to settle the issue”, he said. Pertinently, two senior Congress leaders and ministers in the Omar-Abdullah-led coalition government, Sham Lal Sharma and Raman Bhalla, while addressing a public meeting near Vijaypur here Sunday announced that the state government will bring an amendment in the constitution during the upcoming session of the state legislature to grant PRCs to the West Pakistan refugees. They had also stated that the matter is under the active consideration of the state government. “The State government will bring necessary amendment in the Constitution in the next Assembly Session to clear all hurdles related to this issue. The domicile certificate is an internal matter which would be sorted out shortly,” Bhalla, flanked by Sharma, said. He said State Congress chief, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz is personally monitoring the progress of the outcome of discussion with the Central leadership which recently took place at Delhi. Sharma, while addressing the refugees, said that a delegation of state leaders under the leadership of President Pradesh Congress Committee, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz and MP Madan Lal Sharma met the Central leadership recently and discussed the issues of West Pakistani and PaK refugees. The issue was also raised in the Lok Sabha some days back by Member Parliament, Lal Singh quite vociferously wherein, he also strongly advocated for granting of PRCs to West Pakistan refugees.