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Know how Article 370/35A had snatched away the rights of West Pakistan Refugees and Valmikis in Kashmir

Heard of Article 15 of Indian constitution?

Article 15; a fundamental right in the Indian constitution prohibits the discrimination by the state against any citizen on grounds only of caste, religion, sex, race and place of birth.

Article 15 is a fundamental right.

And then we have WPR (West Pakistan Refugees) of partition and Valmikis (Dalits) who were discriminated on all the grounds because they were not permanent residents of state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Fundamental rights of these people were being snatched away, yet no outbreak or cry. Why?? Because Indian constitution had no role to play in J&K, because of Article 370.

Now, when article 370 has been scrapped, these communities are waiting to have their rights delivered to them.

What was their plight in Kashmir? Let’s see,

West Pakistan Refugees(WPR) :

West Pakistan Refugees of partition, who came to India from Pakistan were made to settle only in the border areas of Jammu. where constant cease-fire violations from pakistan make their lives a living hell. They are not ‘permanent citizens’ and are unable to get decent education or get a government jobs due to the discriminatory clauses of Article 35A.

Labha Ram Gandhi, President of West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee recounts the horror of his family’s journey from Sialkot in Pakistan to Samba in Jammu. They had witnessed gruesome bloodshed after partition. His family entered Jammu and was asked to settle in the border areas from where Muslim families had fled to Pakistan.

A total of 5,764 families of Hindus and Sikhs termed as West Pakistani Refugees (WPR) — had entered India soon after the partition in 1947 but were never considered to be residents of Jammu and Kashmir till Tuesday (6 August 2019) when the discriminatory Article 370 was abrogated by the Indian parliament.

state governments of J&K were reluctant to grant Permanent Resident status to these people who were displaced after partition. these refugees were not even  allowed to purchase land and were settled along the International Border belt in the Jammu region that comprises Kathua, Samba and Jammu district.

There was no other profession that the WPRs could choose as a result they started small businesses to sustain their families.it was a conspiracy of Kashmir-led successive state governments not to let the Hindu refugees to enter inside the Jammu city.

Irony is that when these people were living in such hardship, Muslim Rohingyas from Myanmar were allowed not only to enter Jammu city but also to establish shops and small businesses.

The chairman of the West Pakistani Refugee Front, Madan Lal Dubgotra, said that Article 370 and 35A were brought in only to make J&K a Muslim-majority state.

As per the discriminatory Article 35A, children of those who were not the permanent residents of J&K could not take admission in government technical institutions in J&K due to which most of youths from these Refugee families could not go for higher studies.

WPR were also not allowed to vote in the state assembly or the Panchayat polls but could exercise their franchise only in the parliamentary polls thus making them a nonpolitical entity in many respects.

The Valmikis:

Valmikis are the depressed class of people in J&K called Safai Karamchari. Safai Karamcharis are living below the poverty line in J&K. They are not awarded equal treatment by State Government under Article 14 as is awarded to other residents of J&K. They are deprived of basic human rights by State Government of J&K in the garb of Article 35A.

They were out rightly denied by State Government in unjust, unfair and discriminatory manner.

  • the, Permanent Resident Certificate,
  • right to vote in local elections of state,
  • government job & social welfare benefits, moreover, even their children are denied admission in Professional colleges.

Laws of J&K have reduced them to the position of a “second class citizen” where Safai Karamcharis can only work as “Sweepers”.

Saddest part of their story is they were brought from other states in to a living hell.

In the year 1957 local safai karamcharis of J&K went on an indefinite strike and it continued over for months as a result of which municipal work all over Jammu & Kashmir came to a standstill and most of the cities (especially Jammu and Srinagar) were covered with garbage.

In order to cope up with the situation the Jammu & Kashmir Government headed by the Chief Minister Gulam Mohammad took a cabinet decision to bring Safai Karamcharis from other States. Hundreds of people of Valmiki Samaj from Gurdaspur and Amritsar were brought to Jammu & Kashmir.

The Government of Jammu & Kashmir, had assured that relaxation in obtaining ‘Permanent Resident Certificate’ would be granted at the appropriate time.

Now almost six decades have gone by, their family size has increased manifold and there are limited jobs available as safai karamcharis in municipalities across the State.

The younger generation of Valmiki Samaj are well qualified, most of them are graduates and many of them have also obtained their master degrees in various fields.

But unfortunately it was only after they acquired necessary qualifications and applied for government jobs in the State they came to know that they are not entitled to have a government job other than Sweeper (Safai karamchari) within the State of Jammu & Kashmir. This amounts to discrimination on the basis of caste and creed.

But our intellectuals and seculars and champions of equality hold candle march when the victims belong to some peaceful religion. When the same community stand as perpetrators they remain silent as a rock.

Generally Valmikis belong to the Schedule Caste but they have not been issued Scheduled Caste Certificate for the reason being not issued Permanent Resident Certificate of Jammu & Kashmir. This discrimination deprived these families to reap any benefit to which they are entitled to under the policy of the Central Government or State Government being a person belonging to schedule caste.

Not just that, Gandhi Nagar an area where these were allotted residential plots is a posh area now. many high profile people are eyeing to acquire the land belonging to poor Valmikis and they are consistently been pressurized to vacate the land on which they have been living for over six decades

They are the citizens of India and came to Jammu & Kashmir on the demand of Government of Jammu & Kashmir with the promise that they will be given all the facilities necessary for their livelihood.

They have been oppressed and suppressed in their legitimate demands as Schedule caste and OBC of people living in the State of Jammu & Kashmir who have not been given Permanent Resident Certificates in their favour.

Modern day India certainly cannot allow such grievous mistakes of the past to continue to darken the future of its citizens. The communities that have been wronged deserved justice, urgently. That’s why the centre took a bold step to scrap article 370.

Recently a movie had released ‘Article 15′. Lead actor telling a dalit never to forgive even they are asked apology many times. Our liberals were in total praise for this dialog. Who will apologize to the same Dalits who were snatched off their fundamental rights in Kashmir?

Congress? Abdullahs? Mufti? Who?

Dr Sindhu Prashanth

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