India has been hosting 23,000 families displaced from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) during the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, a report says. The government has paid them Rs 1,265 crore since 2016, a home ministry official has said.
The government is now considering their demand to be allowed to vote for the assembly. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to retain the elected assembly in Jammu & Kashmir while removing its special status and statehood through the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A.
The government not only wants to expedite the release of the financial package but also aims to bring forward alleged atrocities committed by Pakistan in POK."
While India has been maintaining that the territory held by Pakistan belonged to India's Jammu & Kashmir state, the people displaced from the POK had not been getting to vote in the elections to the state assembly. Their disability has been premised on the fact that India is not in a position to conduct elections to the J&K assembly in the 24 seats that fall in the POK. The government, however, has been allowing them to vote in the Parliament election.
The families have been demanding voting rights and a chance to contest elections to the assembly, a report in the Economic Times says. Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet included in the financial aid scheme an additional 5,300 families who had initially moved out of J&K but returned. "The total number of families included in the rehabilitation package is 41,684. About Rs 5.5 lakh per family is being transferred to bank accounts of these beneficiaries after seeking details from the state administration," the report said quoting an unidentified official of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Refugees from West Pakistan
Under the scheme announced in 2016, the Central government has been transferring Rs 5.49,692 to each family while the state administration has been paying them Rs 308. "The government not only wants to expedite the release of the financial package but also aims to bring forward alleged atrocities committed by Pakistan in POK," an unidentified senior official said.
Some of these families migrated there during the Partition in 1947 and others during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan, the report says. Refugees from West Pakistan during various phases of unrest have also been demanding similar package, following which the Centre approved certain concessions for those settled in Jammu & Kashmir in 2015.
Home Minister Amit Shah is widely regarded as the architect of the government's August 5 declaration removing the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, repeal of its statehood and its bifurcation into the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The Himalayan region has since been under a lockdown, which the government says is necessary to counter the mischief fomented from across the line of control (LoC). The development is particularly relevant when the US House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding hearings on the South Asian human rights situation where some members have expressed concern over the lockdown.