Jammu: The West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) have risen in protest against the Jammu and Kashmir administration alleging that they are being denied government jobs despite showing domicile certificates.
According to the protesters, WPR border dwellers, who were selected in the border battalion constables’ posts with Jammu and Kashmir Police were asked to show State Subject certificate in the final round despite the availability of their domicile certificates. The abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 last year was followed by changes in citizenship rules there while granting citizenship rights to members of WPR, Valmikis and the Gorkha community.
The protesters, who gathered outside Press Club Jammu on Thursday, shouted slogans against the J&K administration and the police for alleged “harassment of the WPR youth”.
Speaking to NewsClick, Laba Ram Gandhi, president of West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee, said, “Our community youth had qualified written examination, as well as physical assessment test in the recent police recruitment exam for border dwellers, but in document verification round, they were asked to show the state subject certificate, following which they were refused offer of jobs.”
West Pakistan Refugees (WPR), who have lived in Jammu and Kashmir for decades, were recently recognised as permanent residents after the abrogation of Article 370. The citizenship rights meant that they could now avail all the benefits granted by the state to citizens, including government jobs, participation in state-level politics and their right to vote. Recently, the WPR community voted for the first time in the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls, which was the first ever political exercise after the revocation of J&K’s special status.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the centre has time and again justified the abrogation of Article 370 claiming it was to give citizenship rights to marginalised communities like the West Pakistan Refugees, Valmikis and Gorkhas. The latest denial in the offering of government jobs to the refugees on the pretext of the state subject certificate has now brought the relevance of abrogating Article 370 under question.
“I don’t know what was the point of abrogating the special status when we are still denied rights as citizens of Jammu and Kashmir? It has been 18 months since Article 370 was abrogated and we got citizenship rights. We even voted in the DDC polls for the first time, but it is strange that we are being denied government jobs,” said Gandhi.
A memorandum has also been written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah highlighting the problems faced by the WPRs. Last year, Union minister Dr Jitendra Singh had announced an one-time financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the refugees. The memorandum to Shah says that the promised assistance amount has not been disbursed to even a “single family”. It also mentions that the Ladli Beti scheme and other central schemes have not been extended till date to the West Pakistani Refugees.
“For recruitment in Jammu and Kashmir Police (constables), the authorities are still asking for state subject certificates and West Pakistan Refugees are being denied consideration on the score… A special recruitment drive is required to be initiated for these West Pakistani Refugees to raise their standard or in alternative, appropriate reservations be made in government services and professional colleges,” the memorandum reads.
Meanwhile, the protesters have threatened to launch a massive protest across Jammu if their demands are not addressed by the administration.
“You will find thousands of people from our community on the streets protesting against the J&K administration if our problems are not addressed. We have given time to the administration to respond, following which a major protest will be held in coming few days. We are being forced to step out. We should not be held responsible for it,” Gandhi told NewsClick.