JAMMU, Aug 19: After wait of several months, the Central Government has decided to set up an Advisory Group of all Migrants and Refugees in Jammu and Kashmir to act as a bridge between them and the Governments of Centre and State to address their long pending issues, some of which had recently been cleared by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Advisory Group will comprise senior officials of the Union Home Ministry, State Government and representatives of all Migrants and Refugees living in Jammu and Kashmir including Kashmiri Pandits, Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK), West Pakistan, Chhamb and Jammu.
“The Advisory Group will be an Empowered body with powers to take some of the decisions pertaining to the Migrants and Refugees on their own and refer other issues to the State or Centre Government, in whose domain they fall, for addressing them,” sources said, adding that process has been initiated to set up the Group and make it functional shortly.
There had been a recommendation from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Rights to set up the Advisory Group of all Migrants and refugees in Jammu and Kashmir to solve their problems. The Group was first mooted in the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) announced by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on January 25 this year on the recommendations of Special Representative on Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma. Again during his visit to the State on June 7 and 8, Rajnath had reiterated the call for setting up of the Group.
“Now, the Centre Gover-nment in coordination with the State Government has initiated the process to set up the Advisory Group,” sources said, adding that this will be for the first time that such a Group will be set up for all Migrants and Refugees of Jammu and Kashmir to solve their problems.
The Advisory Group, according to sources, will have members from all migrants and refugees to give adequate representation to them. They attributed delay in setting up the Advisory Group to finalization of names from the Migrants and Refugees, some of whom have number of representatives. Process to pick up the members for the Advisory Group was on, sources said.
Also, the Government wants to ensure that the Advisory Group once set up is workable and don’t remain non-functional like the one set up for Kashmiri Pandits in 2015, which had virtually failed to take off.
“Both Centre and State Governments are concerned about problems the Migrants and Refugees faced in the Jammu region, where they have been putting up. To ensure that they don’t have to repeatedly knock doors of the administration, the Group will be quite helpful,” sources said.
Recently, the Union Home Ministry had announced Rs 5.5 lakh worth relief for every West Pakistani refugee family while an equal amount of relief has already been announced for Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK) and Chhamb migrants. The monthly relief of Kashmiri and Jammu migrants has also been enhanced.
However, the problems have cropped up in disbursement of relief to PoJK, Chhamb and West Pakistani refugees. While payment of relief to West Pakistani refugees was yet to start formally, there has been delay in making payments to the PoJK and Chhamb migrants.
Previous PDP-BJP coalition Government took very long time in completion of formalities and disbursement of relief to 26,319 PoJK refugee families, who had settled here in 1947, and 10,500 Chhamb migrant families, who had migrated in 1965 and 1971, a result of which the Central Government was forced to extend the Scheme till 2020, which was otherwise scheduled to be completed in 2018. However, the process has been expedited by the administration after imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir.
“To ensure that the package for 5764 families of West Pakistani refugees, who will also be provided Rs 5.5 lakh per family at par with PoJK refugees and Chhamb migrants, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which has approved all these packages, has already decided to make them time-bound to ensure that the State administration meets the deadline,” sources said.
It may be mentioned here that the State administration had to finalize the cases and forward them to the MHA, which directly transfer the amount to accounts of the beneficiaries under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme.
The Centre Government had in November 2016 announced Rs 2000 crore worth package for 26,319 families of PoJK refugees and 10,500 Chhamb migrants with Rs 5.5 lakh to be paid to each family. However, even after lapse of one and a half year not even 50 per cent PoJK and Chhamb refugees could be disbursed the amount due to slow pace in completion of the formalities.
However, the process to disburse Rs 5.5 lakh per family to 5764 West Pakistani refugee families was yet to start though the package was announced by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on June 7 and 8 and the scheme was formally notified on June 13.