March 2017 News

Several Kashmiri Families Are Migrating To Jammu

11 March 2017
Sunday Guardian Live

Srinagar: Kashmir is witnessing a steady migration of residents to Jammu in search of security and livelihood, as the valley continues to reel from the after-effects of the violence of 2016, which hurt businesses, in particular the tourism industry. The office of the Relief Commissioner of Jammu of the Jammu and Kashmir government has received several applications from Muslim migrant families seeking registration. This has created a huge controversy, with many pro-Jammu political parties objecting to their registration. Political outfits including the ruling BJP has opposed the settling of thousands of Muslim families in Jammu by saying that this is part of a plan to change the demography of Jammu region. A senior J&K official told this newspaper that they have received 2,750 applications from migrant families from Kashmir from summer 2016 till date. He said that when hundreds of families from the violence-hit south Kashmir in particular applied to be registered as migrants, they were forced to reopen the registration process, which was suspended by the state government nine years ago. These families migrated to Jammu following threats by suspected militants. Most of these families are affiliated with mainstream political parties or have counter insurgency or police background. They do not want to return to Kashmir. Dozens of families migrated in March as the entire south Kashmir is still in the grip of violence and militants have a free run of the region at night. A senior minister with the PDP confirmed to this newspaper that they would verify all the applications of the families who have settled in Jammu and that they would be registered only after proper procedure is followed. When asked whether the state government would stop entertaining fresh applications, he said that they were accepting the applications on humanitarian grounds. J&K Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, Abdul Rehman Veeri told the media that the government had a clear policy of discouraging migration. He said that they were looking into the entire issue, but did not say anything on what their policy would be on the permanent settlement of the migrants in Jammu. Jammu has been witnessing protests by many pro-Jammu parties that are demanding the eviction of the temporary settlements of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis. They have said that they will not allow any more settlements in Jammu. The city already has lakhs of settlers, who have come from Kashmir and also from Pakistan. Migrant Kashmiri Pandits also organised protests against the registration of Muslim migrants. They alleged that it was a move to dilute their concerns.