WPRs emerge as main players to unsettle J&K’s special status

WPRs emerge as main players to unsettle J&K’s special status
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Afaq Bhat
Srinagar, Mar 23: The West Pakistani Refugees (WPRs) who have filed a petition against the Article 35-A in the Supreme Court have reportedly acquired state subject certificates and are enjoying all the privileges which a permanent resident enjoys.
An analyst while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “The issue of WPRs has been haunting the people of Jammu and Kashmir for a longtime. The discussion over Article 35-A and its significance in the state is haunting everyone.”
He said, “Many people believe that if this Article is scrapped it can have far reaching consequences. It can trigger unrest in the Valley. Separatists are waiting for an opportunity.”
A Kashmir watcher said that WPRs are being backed by the rightwing parties to go ahead with the petition which has been filed against the Article 35-A in the Apex Court. “If they succeed in getting this Article scrapped it can pit Jammu against Kashmir,” he added.
He said that government should see whether the reports about WPRs having acquired the Permanent Resident Certificates are correct or not. “If these reports are true then it’s a cause of concern. So it means that they have already infiltrated into the system,” he added.
It’s in place to mention here that Union home ministry had in May 2015 told Parliament that 5754 WPR families had registered in Jammu region on their arrival in 1947. However, organisations representing WPRs claim that the refugee population has risen to 300,000.
The Government of India has already announced a compensation for them and if they have to get the benefits they would have to come forward and give up their citizenship rights. “As per the existing structure of the state WPRs cannot be given the citizenship rights of Jammu and Kashmir and they will have to remain content with their present status.”
The children of the WPRs are allowed to get recruited in Central Security Forces and proof of being voters in the Parliament elections or a certificate issued by sarpanch or numberdar is taken as their identity proof. But they can’t vote in assembly elections, neither are they eligible for state government jobs or permanent resident certificate.
An observer said, “WPRs can get the citizenship rights of J&K if the Apex Court decides to scrap Article 35-A. The scrapping of the Article 35-A would eventually pave the way for revocation of Article 370 and it would allow the outsiders to settle in Jammu and Kashmir. People of Kashmir have been opposing this move tooth and nail. Many people in Jammu also believe that scrapping of Article 35-A and Article 370 could prove detrimental for Jammu and Kashmir.”