Settlement Of WP Refugees: GoI Puts Ball In JK's Court

15 March 2015
Rising Kashmir
Ishfaq Naseem

Srinagar: New Delhi has asked Jammu and Kashmir government that it should take a call on granting permanent resident rights to West Pakistan refugees. According to senior government officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in response to state government's proposal seeking permanent resident rights to West Pakistan refugees, it has been noted that the decision over granting state subject rights falls within the jurisdiction of the state government. 'We have informed the state government that it should look into the matter and not the Central government,' said a senior MHA official. Both the PDP and BJP have agreed to look into the issue of the rehabilitation of the West Pakistani refugees on humanitarian grounds. The West Pakistan refugees have been seeking the state subject rights on ground that they have been living for a long time in the state. However, a senior government official in the revenue department, which had mooted the proposal, said a political consensus should evolve over the issue before any decision is taken by the state government. The state government officials said it was the Legislative Assembly which is competent to grant the rights to Pakistani refugees. 'A bill making provision for any of the matters defining or altering the definition of the classes of persons who are or shall be the permanent residents of the state, conferring on the permanent residents any special rights or privileges, regulating or modifying any special rights or privileges enjoyed by the permanent residents shall be deemed to be passed by either of the Houses of the state legislature with not less than the two-thirds majority,' said a government official. A senior official in the Law department added conferring the state subject rights on the refugees of West Pakistan can be done only with the two-third majority of both the houses of the state legislature. Unlike the refugees from the Pakistan administered Kashmir (PAK) who are the state subjects and including those who are now living in PaK, the finally authority over granting the state subject rights to the West Pakistani refugees lies with the state legislature here. State's Revenue Minister, Javed Mustafa Mir, said the political leadership of BJP and PDP needs to take a decision over the issue. 'As far as my Ministry is concerned, we have no proposal to bring any bill to confer the rights of permanent residents on West Pakistan refugees,' he said.