Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pakistani Refugees in Jammu and Kashmir

Sixty-five years after they were forced to leave their homes and strayed into Jammu and Kashmir in search of security of life, nearly 6000 Hindu and Sikh families, the 1947 partition refugees from Pakistan, have been "sympathetically" heard by the rulers in New Delhi. The irony is that many among the rulers who showed them sympathy in New Delhi are their former compatriots, who, by quirk of destiny, did not land in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the mayhem of 1947 as these more unfortunate ones did. The Prime Minister himself is one among the more fortunate refugees from Pakistan.

The one question that haunts them now is this: will the State administration be inclined to take serious note of the "request" of the Home Ministry to give a sympathetic deal to these lesser mortals? There seems no convincing answer to this question. If the State Government is that humane and unbiased as to respond to the entreaties of the Home Ministry, it would have found a solution to the issue long back and not protracted it over a long period of sixty-five years. A look in retrospect reveals the injustice done to these refugees by the State as well as the Union Government despite their unending supplication, appeals and protests. Theirs is a saga of gross denial of civic rights, blatant violation of human rights, transgression of international law and suppression of natural law flowing from moral philosophy that guides states in running their affairs. The semblance of justice which the Union Home Ministry expects the State Government to extend to them, if agreed to, will flow only to the third generation of these displaced people --- two of their generations having lived and died in destitution. Sometimes this belated eye-wash response by the Home Ministry seems more farcical than practical. Which constituency does the Home Ministry's passing the buck posture serve? That is what the third generation refugees would want to know.

Last time the issue of West Pakistan migrants in Jammu was heard when the Pradesh Congress Chief led a delegation of top political leadership of Jammu and met with the Prime Minister, Congress Chief, Home Minister and many other ministers. The delegation was given time and was also heard "with sympathy". Of course, on humanitarian grounds, Pradesh Congress Chief has done something very appreciable which no one did prior to him. The affected community will be thankful to him for having opened up their case with powers that be.

But to be realistic about the entire affair, this is only the first stage of struggle for winning human, political and civic rights of these people. For them and their political sympathisers, the more strident struggle now is with the State Government after the Union Home Ministry has referred the matter to the State Government with all the humility and servility at its command. The reason for the Home Ministry to be infinitely apologetic in referring the matter to the State Government is not that it is stridently following standard norms of protocol. The real reason is that firstly it is overcome by a sense of guilt and secondly but more importantly it has given nothing to the supplicants except profusion of lip-service and media hype. No law, no constitution and no legal instrument can be higher than the human law. And human law flows from the simple truth that man is the most rational creation of God. The State Government overlooked the constitution and the law of the land as well as Article 370 to which it attaches extraordinary political sanctity, and decided to welcome and rehabilitate the militants who had left their homes in Kashmir with the tacit purpose of becoming part of vast subversive machinery and party to the treasonable act of destroying the Indian State by force of arms. They acted in collusion with foreign subversives in not only extirpating a small religious minority of Kashmir but also in contriving cold blooded killing of thousands of innocent Kashmiris. Despite that we will not grudge the State government the humanistic aspect of accepting them back and rehabilitating them. The Union Home Ministry demonstrated its munificence by offering substantial financial support to the State for rehabilitating these seditionists. But where did that humanistic sensitivity evaporate in thin air in the case of the West Pakistan refugees who are languishing in neglect for last six decades. Home Ministry's sugar-coated rhetoric does not do them any good; it rather insulates negative elements in the State administration. The West Pakistan refugees of 1947 carnage expected a far realistic and non-political response from the Prime Minister if not others just because the Prime Minister, himself a victim of the partition, understands the severity of their case and its ramifications. Justice to them is both uncertain and delayed.

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