After 7 decades struggle: West Pak refugees get some respite

*Move will facilitate recruitment in Central forces

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Dec 5: Waging over seven decades’ struggle, the West Pakistani refugees settled in Jammu region today finally got some reprieve with the State Government on the directions of Union Ministry of Home Affairs devising a mechanism to issue certificates to them, excepting state subjects, which would facilitate their recruitment in Central forces including five battalions of Indian Reserve Police (IRP), which are being raised in Jammu and Kashmir.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the State Government has finally come out with a mechanism designating the officers in Revenue Department, who would issue certificates of West Pakistani refugees and within them the category certificates like Scheduled Caste etc that would facilitate their recruitment in para-military forces for which the Home Ministry has kept special provision.
The relief for West Pakistani refugees came within days after Union Cabinet approved Rs 2000 crores worth package for Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) refugees, which was only a part of the package and not full and final settlement.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh, who was vigorously following the package for West Pakistani and PoK refugees ever since his appointment as the Union Minister along with representatives (of the refugees), said the devising of mechanism for issuing caste certificates to West Pakistani refugees was one among various steps being taken by Narendra Modi Government to mitigate their sufferings.
“We are vigorously following the case of West Pakistani refugees in the Home Ministry along with their representatives and more measures were in the pipeline to help them,” Dr Singh said.
According to sources, the Union Home Ministry has designated Joint Secretary Home, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir, Gyaneshwar Prasad to work out solution to the issues of the West Pakistani refugees, who have been denied state subject rights even after about 70 years of their migration. In view of this, the West Pakistani refugees were not entitled to jobs in the State Government.
Sources said the Home Ministry has kept special reservation for the West Pakistani refugees in the Central forces. However, they were not able to apply for the para-military forces against the reserved posts as the Revenue officers of the State had refused to issue caste certificates to them.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, on the intervention of Dr Jitendra Singh, had written to the State Government to devise a mechanism for issuance of caste and other certificates to the West Pakistani refugees to entitle them to apply for para-military forces and five IRP battalions being raised in the State.
“A mechanism has now been devised and the officers designated to issue West Pakistani refugee and caste certificates, which would facilitate their recruitment in the para-military forces, IRP battalions and other Central Government jobs,” sources said.
They added that some other major issues like permission to West Pakistani refugees to carry out studies in the State and reservation for them outside the State are being followed as the State Government has shown its helplessness in issuing state subjects to them.
Sources said an exclusive employment package for the West Pakistani refugees in Central forces and other Centre Government jobs was likely to be worked out after the end of ongoing Parliament session.
The process to work out settlement to the problems of West Pakistani refugees was set in motion after their delegation met Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who took cognizance of their problems and was very supportive of them and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a law knowing persons, who suggested some ways out.
Meanwhile, sources clarified that Rs 2000 crores worth relief package approved for PoJK refugees by the Central Government was not end of the road.
“This is not the full and final settlement. During disbursement of package, the PoJK refugees will not be asked to submit affidavit of final settlement,” sources said, adding that since Rs 2000 crores was part of Rs 80,000 crores package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it has been approved and is being kept at the disposal of the State Government for disbursement.