After Rs 5.5 lakh relief, Govt set to grant land ownership rights to WP refugees, others

Exercise initiated, Revenue Department, Distt Admn on job
*46,666 kanals land was given on 3 May 1954 without rights

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Sept 15: In another significant decision post abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory Government has initiated an exercise to allot ownership rights to West Pakistani and other refugees over 46,666 kanals of land which they were allotted in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts in 1954 after their migration from Pakistan post partition.
Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Jammu and Kashmir Government have discussed the issue after which the Revenue Department of the UT Government has initiated an exercise to work out modalities of allotment of ownership rights which couldn’t be granted to West Pakistani refugees and some others as they were not granted State Subject rights by the previous Governments due to Article 370 of the Constitution.
However, after abrogation of special status of erstwhile State of J&K on August 5, 2019, the Government declared West Pakistani refugees, Valmikis and Gorkhas as domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) and West Pakistani refugees were paid Rs 5.5 lakh compensation per family by the BJP Government at the Centre.
On their migration to Jammu and Kashmir, the PoJK refugees were allotted plots on their names as they were treated as State Subjects. However, the West Pakistani refugees were given 46,666 kanals of land on May 7, 1954 in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts but were not conferred with ownership rights as they were not treated as the State Subjects.
The land was mostly allotted in Pargwal island in Akhnoor, RS Pura and Bishnah tehsils in Jammu, parts of Samba and Hiranagar in Kathua district besides some other places.
“The Revenue Department is working out modalities on allotment of ownership rights to West Pakistani refugees. Number of refugees and their families, total land under their occupation, status of land and other formalities are being collected and a decision on conferring ownership rights to the refugees is expected to be taken soon,” sources said.
The Government decision will end another major act of discrimination with refugees by the previous Governments which continued for more than 70 years till abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said.
District administration in all three districts including Jammu, Samba and Kathua has been directed by the Revenue Department to complete all formalities about total number of West Pakistani refugees and land allotted to them in 1954 or later shortly. The Revenue Department will compile the record of all three districts and finally the Union Territory Government will take a call.
As per the sources, the Government will take a decision as soon as all requisite formalities are completed by the Revenue Department.
Due to denial of rights to the West Pakistani refugees including State Subject rights, they couldn’t get the Government jobs and other facilities to which residents of Jammu and Kashmir were entitled. This discrimination was undone after the Central Government on August 5, 2019 scrapped special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated erstwhile State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Sources said grant of ownership rights to West Pakistani refugees will go a long way in their settlement here.