“J&K Govt will construct Smriti Bhavan in the memory of martyrs of POJK. Steps will be taken to regularize colonies of displaced families. It is our responsibility to secure their rights & build an enabling environment to fulfill aspirations of youth," Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha tweeted, tagging PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
It may seem like a sudden decision, but a lot of hard work has gone into it, with volunteers from among the Pakistan Occupied Jammu Kashmir (POJK) youth working for the past couple of years. They held dozens of camps, in remote locations, to enumerate and register the displaced people (DP). At least 23,000 of the displaced living outside Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) have been issued Domicile Certificates after following due process, Ajay Sharma said.
J&K Govt will construct Smriti Bhawan in the memory of martyrs of PoJK. Steps will be taken to regularize the colonies of displaced families. It is our responsibility to secure their rights & build an enabling environment to fulfill aspirations of youth.@narendramodi @AmitShah pic.twitter.com/3cFBmlFDaT— Office of LG J&K (@OfficeOfLGJandK) March 6, 2023
A couple of days ago, the J&K government had released advertisements giving details regarding ‘LG’s Special Governance Camp for DPs of POJK’. These camps will be organised at several locations between March 6 (Monday) and March 19. The focus will be on skill development, social assistance, self-employment, studies, sports and financial inclusion.
These camps will be organised at Bhour camp, Chatha, Satwari, Bakshi Nagar (both in Jammu), at two locations in Rajouri, Poonch, Samba and Udhampur, according to official sources. The advertisement giving details of these programmes has been issued by Relief and Rehabilitation Department of J&K government.
Speaking about the latest developments, Dr Deepak Kapoor said: “Smriti Bhavan and regularisation of colonies of DPs are enabling moves, and give us a sense of empowerment.”
A lot more needs to be done for setting right the historical wrongs the DPs faced these 75 years, he added.
“Twenty-four seats are kept frozen (and reserved) for POJK areas in Legislative Assembly of J&K. All of these, or a majority of them, can be defreezed. DPs living in J&K and at other places all over India, and even in other parts of the world, can be included in the legislature of the Union Territory (UT) of J&K,” he argued.
Kapoor’s parents could barely save their lives as they ran away from Muzaffarabad when communal killings started there. “Suitable modalities can be worked out. It can be done by nominating people from among the DPs, or some other method can be evolved by the government. This will help DPs be a part of the legislature and get their lost identities back."
He says that Pakistan conducts regular elections for 12 seats (six reserved for Jammu areas, 6 for Kashmir valley) in POJK areas. “Why can’t this be done here in Jammu and Kashmir?”
Then answers himself saying this can happen now provided the government shows the political will.
Asked about the number of DPs from POJK, he says that no census has been carried out by the government to enumerate them. However, he claims that the number can range up to 10 lakh or one million. Around 8.50 lakh of these DPs are living in various districts of the Jammu region and the rest in other parts of India, and some abroad, he added.
On February 22, Kapoor made a presentation at the Department of Regional and Strategic Studies (DSRS) of Jammu University. His presentation dealt in detail with the horrors his parents, grandparents and other DPs had to face in October 1947. He had then made an impassioned plea to the government to set up a Smriti Bhavan for the DPs of POJK.
On May 8, 2022, a massive rally was organised in Jammu city by the DPs to pay tributes to their forefathers who were martyred in October 1947. Over 20,000 people had participated in this function at which Surinder Jain, a senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader had spoken.
In late 1989 and early 1990, terrorism erupted in a big way in the Kashmir valley. Later, the whole of Jammu and Kashmir saw bomb blasts, select communal killings and brandishing of weapons by terrorists in public places. On February 22, 1994, both Houses of the Indian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution emphasizing that J&K was “an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the State under its occupation”.
The resolution read: “This House notes with deep concern Pakistan’s role in imparting training to the terrorists in camps located in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the supply of weapons and funds, assistance in infiltration of trained militants, including foreign mercenaries into Jammu and Kashmir.” It also “called upon Pakistan to stop forthwith its support to terrorism, which is “the root cause of tension between the two countries”.
The resolution also declared that India had the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Till February 2019, the will and capacity the Parliament talked of were hardly ever at display and seemed like empty rhetoric. However, the dastardly Pulwama killings of CRPF men on February 14, 2019, and subsequent Balakote strikes changed that perception.
For the past four years, a new dynamic is being witnessed in India-Pakistan relations with the Indian government defining the red lines much more sharply. Incidentally, in the paragraph above, the words used are Pakistan Occupied Kashmir which was officially changed by the Modi government to Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) in its first term.
The government has taken significant steps though these have perhaps remained less publicised. For a beginning, the government has recognised displaced people (refugees, in other words) from POJK as “stakeholders” in J&K, Kapoor says.
At the programme held in Jammu University last month, students from the Central University of Jammu (CUJ) and some departments of Jammu University had participated. It needs to be stressed here that successive governments in J&K had refused to recognise DPs from POJK settled outside the state (then) as bonafide residents of the state.
Something has changed now and an important role has been played in it by the descendants of DPs of POJK settled in Delhi. These people have been organising small commemorative functions on November 25 every year to pay tributes to Hindu and Sikh martyrs of Mirpur. The centre of their activities, for several decades, remained Lajpatnagar area where a Mirpur Mandir Balidan Bhavan has been set up. At least 25,000 Hindus and Sikhs from Muzaffarabad and other towns who had gathered at Mirpur were massacred over several days in November 1947. Most of these people were trying to escape to Jammu via Rajouri when calamity struck.
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