After facing flak, Govt denies issuing domicile certificates to West Pakistan refugees

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Jammu Taei, December 22

Amid a row over its reported move to issue domicile certificates to the West Pakistan refugees, Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday said that they were only issuing “identity certificates” to these people “to facilitate them to get jobs in paramilitary forces and other central government establishments.”

Discounting the “false and contrived impression” being created regarding the change of status of the West Pakistan Refugees (WPR), the Government today made it clear that such reports are “deliberately being circulated to destabilize the situation and hit the political and economic interests of the people.”“It seems an orchestrated and misleading campaign has been launched to create an impression that the Government is changing the status of the WPR and they are being provided domicile certificates,” Minister for Education and State Government Spokesman, Naeem Akhtar said in a statement.

Akhtar said the refugees who settled in Jammu and Kashmir, in the aftermath of the partition of the subcontinent, include those from PaK and West Pakistan.

“While the refugees from PaK have the status of the permanent residents of the State, those from West Pakistan are not entitled to permanent residence as they are not the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said and added that given their present status, the West Pakistan Refugees are entitled to vote in the Parliament elections, but can’t exercise their franchise in the state assembly polls.

He said as the West Pakistan Refugees can’t apply for any job within the State, because of being non-state subjects, to facilitate them to get jobs in paramilitary forces and other central government establishments, the Government has issued them Identity Certificates which is in the same format as exists in the voter list for the Parliamentary polls. “Issuance of Identity Certificates does in no way change the status of the West Pakistan Refugees and they continue to be the non-state subjects,” he said.

“Unfortunately, earlier this year also controversies were stirred and public passions raised deliberately on tenuous issues like Pandit Colonies and Ex-Servicemen Colonies which ended up with a long spell of disorder and violence in Kashmir resulting in loss of so many precious lives, injuries, destruction of public and private properties, breakdown of academic system, torching of schools, ruining of economy and complete halting of developmental process,” said Akhtar.

“Now when the situation has started improving in Kashmir with academic, tourism, developmental and economic activities slowly picking up again, unfortunately speculative reports are being passed around about the change of status of the WPR to create confusion and once again fuel disquiet,” he said.

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