Government Prioritizes Rehabilitation of PoJK Refugees: LG

Kashmir Magazine

Irfan Ahmad Mir

Asserting that Pakistan-occupied-Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) was an integral part of India, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK) is an integral part of India and cannot be kept away for long. He said commitment made in the Parliament regarding PoJK will soon be fulfilled by the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi and Baba Amarnath. He also said that colonies where displaced people from PoJK were living, will be regularized shortly.
The administration in Jammu has identified land where PoJK Bhawan will come up for these refugees who have suffered a lot. The colonies where displaced people from PoJK are living at present will be regularized shortly,” he told reporters on the sidelines of event titled special governance for PoJK people, in Jammu.
The LG said that the children of PoJK refugees will be given priority in jobs and education. However, he was quick to add that no power can keep PoJK away from the Union of India for long.
“I urge all the PoJK people, including women and youth, to play their part in building a strong India and vibrant India,” Sinha said and added refugees from PoJK will benefit from every scheme of the government.
According to official figures, a total of 31,619 displaced families from PoJK got registered after 1947, and of them, 26,319 families settled in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, during the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, a total of 10,065 families registered as displaced families from Chhamb Niabat from across the border the figures reveal.
For the displaced families of 1947 which stayed in J&K, the government had allotted agricultural land ranging from 4-8 acres per family. Those who settled in urban areas were provided plots/quarters besides cash ex-gratia of Rs 3,500 per family. For those families which did not get land allotted according to prescribed scales cash compensation was sanctioned by the government of India against land deficiency.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha was inaugurating LG’s Special Governance Camp for Displaced Persons of PoJK at Sports Stadium Bhour Camp.
The drive aimed to take the welfare schemes to every house and ensure coverage of all beneficiaries under Centrally Sponsored Schemes & UT Schemes will be held at Udhampur, Rajouri, Jammu, Poonch and Kathua.
“Displaced families of PoJK have suffered a lot. Prime Minister Narendra Modi understood their sufferings and made arrangements for their financial support and settlement. We have organized this camp on the direction of Prime Minister to saturate social security schemes, handholding of youth so that they pursue their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs and ensuring that they can avail all facilities like other citizens. Steps will be taken to regularize the colonies of displaced families,” said the Lieutenant Governor.

The Lieutenant Governor announced that the J&K Government will construct Smriti Bhawan in the memory of martyrs of PoJK. “Every effort will be made to preserve and promote the culture & traditions of displaced families. Land has already been identified and soon the construction work will be started,” he added.

The Lieutenant Governor also paid homage to the brave civilians who were martyred in the October 1947 terror attack by Pakistan. “We remember their supreme sacrifices and understand pain and sufferings of displaced families. It is our responsibility to secure their rights and build an enabling environment to fulfil aspirations of young generation from the community, the LG Sinha observed.

“PoJK is an integral part of India. Commitment made in Parliament regarding PoJK will soon be fulfilled by the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi and Baba Amarnath,” said the Lieutenant Governor.

He said the development of new J&K is incomplete without complete integration of PoJK Displaced Persons in the mainstream development. We are committed to ensuring the welfare and well-being of all so they can realize their true potential & contribute in nation building, he noted. “We had started outreach programmes in 2021 for families living outside UT so that no one is left behind in any welfare scheme & focusing on skilling, self employment, social assistance, scholarships, sports, financial inclusion to aid economic development & financial stability,” the Lieutenant Governor said.

“The Prime Minister’s Mantra of “Vanchito ko Variyata” is guiding our developmental journey. In the last 30 months, we have ensured governance is inclusive, transparent, effective and accountable and provides equal benefit and equal opportunity to all,” the LG Sinha said.

Recalling the decision of abrogation of Article 370 and 35(A) that provided J&K special status in the constitution of India, the LG Sinha said that “On August 5, 2019, the PM Narendra Modi ended the decades-long injustice, and provided equal opportunities to Valmiki, Gorkha, Safai Karamcharis communities and displaced persons”.

He said “The families from West Pakistan were facing discrimination for many decades. Several communities were denied voting rights and other rights of citizens as enshrined in the constitution. Many generations were treated as second-class citizens. After August 2019, they were given equal rights and equal opportunities are being provided to all,” he added.

He expressed gratitude to the Home Minister Amit Shah for making 7 sub-schemes an Umbrella Scheme under “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates” and extending the welfare schemes till 2025-26.

He said “More than 21,000 domicile certificates were issued through camps in Delhi, Chandigarh, Himachal, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. We will continuously run such camps in Jammu and Kashmir and other States/UTs so that all the affected families can get the benefits of government welfare schemes.

Under ‘One Time Central Assistance’ for the Displaced Persons of PoJK, 33,636 cases were approved and an amount of Rs 1452.33 crore was distributed. This scheme ended on 31st March last year. Somehow, more than 5000 families could not submit the claim within the time frame. The issue will be taken with the Central Government, he said.

The Lt Governor further assured that all pending issues of POJK’s displaced families will be resolved and urged upon the talented youth to avail the benefits of youth-oriented programmes run by the government. “Mission youth will extend benefits of all 17 schemes. Sports Council will provide opportunities and all possible help to the promising players in various sports disciplines,” the LG Sinha maintained.

Divisional Commissioner, Jammu KK Sidha; Commissioner, Relief & Rehabilitation; and other senior officers were present at the occasion.

It is worthwhile to mention that one-time settlement of Pak West refugees has been a major challenge of Government. The Freedom Fighters and Rehabilitation (FFR) Division of Ministry of Home Affairs has already formulated a settlement scheme for the community who migrated from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Chhamb.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on November 7, 2015 announced a development package in which there was a component of one-time central assistance of Rs. 2000 crore for rehabilitation package for 36,384 families displaced from PoK and Chhamb and settled in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The proposed package was in continuation of a series of relief and rehabilitation packages extended by the Government of India/State Government of J&K from time to time in the past. Despite the several rehabilitation packages extended by both Central and State Government in the past by way of agricultural land, housing plots, houses and other facilities along with cash assistance, the Displaced Persons (DPs) of PoJK and Chhamb had been approaching the Government time and again for payment of compensation against properties they were forced to part with due to war and hostilities.

The Government of J&K vide letter dated 20.10.2014 had sent a proposal of rehabilitation package for one time full and final settlement of the claims of 36,384 families of PoJK and Chhamb DPs. The State Government had proposed a payment of Rs. 25 lakh to each family as a one-time compensation, amounting to a total of Rs. 9096 crore.

Central Government had carefully considered the proposal and the demands of the DPs had taken a view that past rehabilitation packages from the year 1947 onwards have helped the displaced families in a variety of ways. The displaced families have already been given agricultural land/homestead plots, houses or cash compensation through various schemes. In that backdrop, Central Government considered a further package of Rs. 5.5 lakh cash benefit per family as reasonable amount, which can help these families to run a small business or other land-based activities that can give a reasonable monthly return. Even if the amount is invested in an annuity scheme, the monthly return will also provide a dependable support system on sustainable basis. The scheme has been formulated with the approval of Home Minister.

The scheme being a component of the PM’s Development Package for J&K-2015, aimed to provide supplementary financial assistance so as to enable the families to run small business or to undertake scientific farming, livestock or other land-based activities, which can provide the displaced families some assured and sustained earning. The amount of assistance can also be invested in any annuity scheme, which can give an assured monthly income on sustainable basis. The scheme comprised a State share of Rs. 308 and Central share of Rs. 5,49,692 per family, amounting to Rs. 5,50,000 per displaced family.

Eligibility of the beneficiary

The Claimant/Head of the DP family or his/her successor or heir residing within the State should have been part of the overall category of 36,384 families belonging to any of the following categories:
1.Pakistan occupied Jammu & Kashmir 1947 DPs.
2.Chhamb 1965 and 1971 (camp/non-camp) DPs.

The amount of Central Assistance of Rs. 549692 per family was planned to be distributed through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) method to the eligible beneficiaries by the Central Government directly and State Government will transfer the State’s share of Rs. 308 per family to the beneficiaries through DBT.

For identification of the beneficiaries, the Government of J&K laid down credible and verifiable documents. It was said that State Government will verify the documents and recommend the name of the beneficiary along with copy of Aadhar card and Aadhar linked bank account number of the beneficiaries to Ministry of Home Affairs so as to enable the Central Government make the transfers directly to the beneficiaries.

The concerned Deputy Commissioners were directed to ensure the amount of State share of Rs. 308 in respect of an eligible displaced family is directly transferred to the bank account of the beneficiary. It was also directed that all transactions should be through bank and no cash transaction shall be made.

In this regard, a Committee under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary in-charge of FFR Division with suitable members from IFD/CCA(Home) and any other member as may be decided will monitor the implementation of the scheme. Similarly a Committee at the level of the concerned Divisional Commissioner with representatives of the Provincial Rehabilitation Office (PRO)/concerned Deputy Commissioner and other suitable members as may be decided by the State Government was directed to monitor the disbursement of the State share of the financial assistance at the District level.