Demands ranging from rights of PoK refugees to special financial packages for border residents facing frequent Pakistani shelling were highlighted as the Centre's special envoy on Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, met delegations from different sections of the society here for the second day today.
Demands ranging from rights of PoK refugees to special financial packages for border residents facing frequent Pakistani shelling were highlighted as the Centre’s special envoy on Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, met delegations from different sections of the society here for the second day today. The delegations also highlighted issues like alleged discrimination against Jammu, revocation of Article 35A of the Constitution, which gives special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and deportation of Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims. Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, was appointed the Centre’s interlocutor on October 23 to hold talks with all stakeholders in an effort to find lasting peace in Kashmir.
After conducting a six-day tour of the state from November 6, Sharma arrived here yesterday on his second visit to the state and will leave for Kashmir tomorrow. He visited Kashmiri pandit camps here yesterday. Sharma met several delegations this morning and is scheduled to meet over two dozen more this evening. “The resolution of issues in Kashmir is not possible without resolving the problems faced by the refugees of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” senior BJP leader and MLC Charanjeet Singh Khalsa told PTI. Khalsa, who led a six-member delegation of PoK refugees, said they are the “real victims” who have been waiting for justice for the last seven decades. Khalsa put forward his demands for benefits at par with Kashmiri pandits, including reservation for their children in various educational institutions.
A delegation of prominent citizens of Jammu led by BJP MLC Ramesh Arora discussed various issues while suggesting that “the problem is within the state and it should not be taken as a Kashmir-oriented problem only. “No politician should be allowed to cross limits of freedom of speech as prescribed by the Constitution,” Arora said, asserting that the aspirations and problems of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are different. The delegation submitted a memorandum to Sharma which, among other things, welcomed the government’s decision to release stone pelters but cautioned against releasing those who committed “serious offences”. After his first visit to Kashmir Valley, Sharma suggested that cases against 4,500 youths involved in stone pelting for the first time be dropped in a bid to win hearts.
Suggesting to set up a separate department for all types of refugees, Arora demanded necessary measures to put an end to illegal funding coming from outside. He demanded promotion of local industry saying it has suffered a lot in the past three decades of terrorism.
Jammu Province People’s Forum delegation led by former districts and sessions Judge Pavittat Singh Bhardwaj alleged that the state government was intentionally changing the demography of Jammu by settling Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims here. “The influx of anti-social and anti-national elements is posing a grave threat to the security of the region,” Bhardwaj said in his three-page memorandum, demanding immediate deportation of the foreign immigrants.
The memorandum demanded for repeal of Article 35A saying “it is legally non-existent and a hurdle in development of Jammu.” The forum said the demand of self-rule by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and greater autonomy by the opposition National Conference is not acceptable to the people of Jammu. Choudhary Kamal Singh, who led a delegation of Border Area People Welfare Forum (BAPWF), highlighted the miseries of the people living along the Line of Control and International border in the state. He also demanded enhancement of ex-gratia relief to the victims of border firing and suggested that compensation to those killed should be raised to Rs 1 crore.
He also demanded development of Suchetgarh border in Jammu on the pattern of Wagah border as part of promotion of border and religious tourism in the state. Singh also called for special recruitment packages on the lines of Kashmiri pandits and allotment of land or two-room apartments in safer zones for the border residents.