New Delhi ,
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said here today that while two of the refugees from West Pakistan, namely Dr Manmohan Singh and Inder Kumar Gujral, went on to become Prime Ministers of India, the contradiction was that those of the refugees from the same category who chose to settle down in Jammu & Kashmir were not even granted the right to vote in the State Assembly election or to contest for the State Legislative Assembly election. However, he said, after Prime Minister Modi corrected this anomaly on 5th August 2019 by abrogating Article 370, now even a refugee from Pakistan settled in Jammu & Kashmir can contest the election and also aspire to become an MLA or Minister or even Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.
Dr Jitendra Singh was addressing a largely attended rally of West Pakistan refugees, held close to the International Border (IB) near Jammu. Earlier, he went to Bagona, the native village of Brig. Rajinder Singh, who had attained martyrdom during the Pakistan attack in 1947.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, refugees who were uprooted from Pakistan and had to leave their homes and hearths at short notice to take shelter on the Indian side after partition, have an exemplary history of struggle and resurgence after going through the trauma of partition and also losing many of their near and dear ones in the riots that followed. After independence, he said, they contributed in every sphere of life and brought pride to the nation. Not only this, two of India’s Prime Ministers, namely Dr Manmohan Singh and Inder Kumar Gujral are the erstwhile residents of West Pakistan, while former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani hailed from Karachi, he added.
Unfortunately, however, Dr Jitendra Singh lamented that because of the political interests of certain narrow minded elements and machinations in the name of Article 370, those of the refugees from Pakistan, who chose to settle in Jammu & Kashmir were deprived of their basic rights of citizenship as well as other opportunities available to their counterparts who had chosen to settle in other parts of India after independence in 1947.
Giving full credit to the courage of conviction and determination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr Jitendra Singh said, West Pakistan refugees settled in and around Jammu had to wait for 72 years for Modi to take over as Prime Minister and correct this anomaly. In the last three years, this section of population has not only been granted all the constitutional rights available to every other Indian but they have also attained a sense of self-esteem and belonging as the citizens of India.
Referring to the completion of 75 years of India’s independence, Dr Jitendra Singh said, India has proved to the rest of the world its capacity and inherent strength to thrive as a democratic independent nation and is now entering into the most critical phase of 25 years, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described as ‘Amrit Mahakaal’.
Dr Jitendra Singh expressed the hope that the next quarter century would mark the golden chapter in the growth story of India and Jammu & Kashmir will have a major role to play. Under Prime Minister Modi, he said, the unexplored potential of peripheral territories like Jammu & Kashmir are now being put to utilisation and several new Start-Up initiatives, particularly in the agricultural sector, are taking off from Jammu & Kashmir.
Conveying his wishes on the eve of Independence Day, Dr Jitendra Singh appreciated the efforts of veteran activist Labha Ram Gandhi in organising this Independence Day event and expressed confidence that like the rest of the Indians, the West Pakistan refugees settled in Jammu & Kashmir will also feel energised to contribute in the making of Modi’s India of 2047.
In his speech, Labha Ram Gandhi expressed full solidarity on behalf of his community to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said it is only because of Modi and the BJP Government that justice was done to the West Pakistan refugees.
Lt Gen (Retd) R K Sharma, speaking on the occasion, reiterated the patriotic and nationalistic support of the Indian Forces and ex-servicemen to the Modi government on the eve of India’s Independence.