Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha

Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha | Photo Credit: PTI

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has decided to regularize the colonies populated by refugees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), who were granted citizenship and equal voting rights in 2019.

“Displaced families of PoK have suffered a lot. Prime Minister Narendra Modi yes Understood their sufferings and made arrangements for their financial support and settlement, and access to social security schemes. Steps will be taken to regularize the colonies of displaced families,” J&K Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha said, while inaugurating a special governance camp for displaced persons from PoK in Jammu. He described PoK as an integral part of India. “Commitment made in Parliament regarding PoK will soon be fulfilled by the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi and Baba Amarnath,” he said.

Mr. Sinha said that on August 5, 2019, Mr. Modi had ended the decades-long injustice and provided equal opportunities to the Valmiki, Gorkha and Safai Karamchari communities, and displaced persons. “Several communities were denied voting rights and other rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution. Many generations were treated as second-class citizens. After August 2019, they were given equal rights and equal opportunities are being provided to all,” said the Lt. Governor.

According to official figures, 36,384 families, who were displaced from PoK and Chhamb in 1947, are settled in J&K. Prior to the Centre’s decision to end J&K’s special status in 2019, these refugees were not allowed to vote in Assembly elections or buy property in J&K. Mr. Sinha said the government would construct Smriti Bhawan in the memory of the martyrs of PoK.

According to the J&K government’s report, displaced PoK persons were settled over 6.80 lakh kanals (84,999.99 acres) of land and about 2.43 lakh kanals (30,374.99 acres) in Udhampur, Rajouri, Jammu, Poonch and Kathua districts.

Mr. Sinha said the government would construct a Smriti Bhawan in the memory of martyrs of PoK. “Every effort will be made to preserve and promote the culture and traditions of displaced families. Land has already been identified and soon the construction work will start,” the LG said.

Paying homage to civilians who were killed in October 1947 “in a terror attack by Pakistan”, Mr. Sinha said, “We remember their supreme sacrifices and understand the pain and sufferings of displaced families. It is our responsibility to secure their rights and build an enabling environment to fulfill the aspirations of the young generation from the community.”

He said the development of a new J&K would be incomplete without complete integration of PoK-displaced persons in the mainstream development. “We are committed to ensuring the welfare and well-being of all so they can realize their true potential and contribute to nation building,” he said.

Mr. Sinha said more than 21,000 domicile certificates were issued through camps in Delhi, Chandigarh, Himachal, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. “We will continuously run such camps in Jammu and Kashmir and other States/Union Territories so that all the affected families can get the benefits of government welfare schemes,” he added.

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