BJP takes up the cause of WP refugees
Gandhi bemoans ignorance of PSC
JAMMU, Aug 2: On July 30, a very important development took place in New Delhi. Leadership of refugees and migrants met the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Home Affairs and narrated their woeful tales. The PSC is headed by former BJP national president and MP Venkaiah Naidu and other members of the committee include LK Advani, Lalu Parshad Yadav, Rajiv Partap Rudy, Naveen Jindal and Dr V Metray. It would be interesting to note what chairman of West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee (WPRAC) Labha Ram Gandhi said while reflecting on the meeting and its significance. Talking to a senior correspondent on July 31, Labha Ram Gandhi made startling revelations and, among other things, said: "A majority of the PSC members were surprised when I briefed them about the plight of the stateless West Pakistani refugees living in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947". "Intervention of the PSC has rekindled hope among West Pakistani refugees because representatives of almost all political parties were present during the deliberations…The first-time elected representatives of all political parties were informed about these refugees and they assured to take some concrete step to solve this problem once and for all…The PSC members had sought a response from the State Government on the issue of the refugees. Although political parties across the country are aware of the Kashmiri migrants and PoK refugees, they were not aware that West Pakistani refugees living in J&K…The PSC members had admitted that denying basic fundamental rights to these refugees, majority of them Dalits, was a glaring example of human rights violation in the State. It is really shocking that successive State Governments have never projected our demands before the country. Some members were shell shocked when they were informed that despite living in J&K since 1947, West Pakistani refugees were still being denied the right to vote for Assembly, panchayat as well as urban local bodies…Except the BJP, the PSC members of other political parties were not aware of the West Pakistani refugees," he said.
Gandhi had never been that hopeful as he was after his meeting with the PSC members. A number of local BJP leaders were also present when Gandhi and his colleagues narrated their woeful tales. It needs to be underlined that the West Pakistan refugees do not have the right to immovable property, right to Government service, right to bank loan, right to higher technical and professional education, right to vote in the Assembly and local-bodies' elections and so on even after 65 years of their stay in Jammu. It must remain a matter of shame that the authorities have denied the West Pakistan refugees their fundamental rights or natural rights.
It bears recalling that on July 30 Gandhi, along with the representatives of refugees from Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir (POJK), refugees from Kashmir and victims of terrorism and communal violence affected people discussed in detail their plight and grievances with member of PSC in New Delhi. It was an important meeting in the sense that no less than 32 members participated in the important deliberations. It was perhaps for the first time after 1947 that so many members of the PSC came to know that the hapless and abandoned West Pakistani refugees had been leading a wretched life since 1947. The credit goes to the BJP, as it all happened owing to its initiative. The BJP ensured the participation of representatives of West Pakistan refugees in the crucial meeting. The development must have unnerved the local Congress leadership, which has consistently hoodwinked and fooled the refugees from West Pakistan.