West Pakistan Hindu refugees, whose ancestors had migrated to India during the 1947 partition and settled in the Jammu region, were feeling stateless and cheated even after seven decades of living in Jammu and Kashmir.
Now with the scrapping of Article 370 and 35A, which prevented them to settle permanently and own property, will automatically become the residents of this state.
Both Articles accord special rights and privileges to residents of Jammu and Kashmir only.
“Earlier, we were residents of India but not of Jammu and Kashmir. With the scrapping of both statutory provisions, we will automatically become the residents of Jammu and Kashmir too,” Labha Ram Gandhi, President of West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee, told here on Tuesday.
After 72 years of India”s Independence, he said the West Pakistan refugees got natural justice. “We can proudly say now – – we have got freedom from slavery,” an elated Labha Ram, 57, whose parents migrated during the Partition, said.
The population of the West Pakistan Refugees is nearly 1.5 lakh, settled only in the Jammu region in the erstwhile state.
They say they are entitled to vote in Parliament elections but not in the State Assembly before abolition of Article 370. Also the state laws prohibit them from buying property and to get government jobs.
Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his bold historic decision, the refugees say the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A would certainly end decades-old discrimination against them by entitling them to get full citizenship rights.