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Despite change in J&K’s status-quo, WPRs yet to get voting rights
10/18/2020 12:42:35 AM

Early Times Report

Jammu, Oct 17: Despite change in J&K’s status-quo, the West Pakistani Refugees (WPRs), who were deprived of permanent citizenship in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State, are yet to get voting rights in the local bodies as well as panchayats elections, which are scheduled to be held soon.
As announced by Jammu and Kashmir Election authorities the by-elections for Urban Local bodies as well as vacant seats for panchayats institutions is scheduled to be held shortly and the government has already set in motion the process to conduct the elections.
“Though many West Pakistani Refugee (WPR) have got the domicile certificate but in case of upcoming panchayats as well as local body by-elections, these refugees are still not voters and they will not be able to participate in the elections”, an official said, adding that it could also be inferred from a press conference organized by Principal Secretary of the Revenue Department on September 1.
In the presser, Revenue Secretary Dr. Pawan Kotwal had said, “The domicile certificate is for applying for jobs in Jammu and Kashmir...it does not confer [the] right to buy land at the moment. Separate rules will be needed to cover the issue of land rights”.
The Revenue Secretary had also said that those holding domicile certificates would not be automatically included in the voters’ list in the Union Territory either.
“It is amply clear from the statement of Revenue Secretary that while WPRs might have got domicile certificates but they are not voters in the upcoming panchayat elections. Their deprivation on part of getting voting rights is still same as these were before the revocation of Article 370”, a politician said, adding that from the statement of Revenue Secretary, it was still unknown as when and how the refugees, who had been deprived of permanent citizenship in Jammu and Kashmir, would get all the rights, as enjoyed by the other citizens.
“The fight of WPRs is not over yet but they believe in the wisdom of Union government. If the Centre can do away with the main impediment the contentious Article 370, it can also easily remove all other minor hurdles in order to ensure all rights to the deprived communities such as WPRs”, the leader said, adding that but so far they are not voters in the upcoming elections and political parties should not forget them and their struggle for getting all basic rights.
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