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DDC Elections: West Pakistan Refugees to Vote for First Time in Local Polls in J&K

For 73-year-old Surat Singh, who migrated through the Partition, and several other different West Pakistan refugees it is going to be a dream come true as they may train their franchise for the primary time in an area ballot in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday. Apart from parliamentary elections, these refugees, had been, until final 12 months, barred in Jammu and Kashmir from voting in meeting, panchayat and concrete native physique polls. This grew to become doable after the Centre on August 5 final 12 months abrogated Article 370 and so they received domicile standing.

Surat Singh, together with different refugees, comprising Sikhs and Hindus, might be eligible to vote within the District Improvement Councils (DDC) elections that might be held in eight phases in Jammu and Kashmir starting Saturday. Voting in native polls is now doable because the refugees, who until August 5 final 12 months had been “stateless”, have now received domicile standing in Jammu and Kashmir with the abrogation of Article 370, West Pakistani Refugees Motion Committee (WPRAC) vice chairman Sukhdev Singh mentioned. The refugees, who migrated through the Partition from elements of west Punjab and Gujarat that are actually in Pakistan, had been additionally barred from authorities jobs, scholarships and admission in faculties, welfare schemes, and proper to personal land until the Centre’s final 12 months resolution.

“It’s a dream come true for us to get voting rights. We lived as undesirable and stateless individuals for over 70 years. Now, I might be voting for the primary time in an area election,” mentioned Surat Singh, a resident of Akhnoor, which fits to polls within the first part of the DDC elections. West Pakistan refugees will now not be “undesirable residents” of Jammu and Kashmir, they’ll additionally take part in elections now, whether or not to the meeting or panchayat, he mentioned.

Eighty-three-year-old Tirth Singh mentioned, “Now, I might be voting for the primary time in these native elections. We’ll now not be undesirable residents of J&Ok, however the proud voters.” The Centre final 12 months had abrogated the article, which gave particular standing to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Since then the federal government has launched a number of legal guidelines, together with these associated to land and domicile standing. “We thank the Modi authorities for guaranteeing justice to West Pakistan refugees,” mentioned Sukhdev Singh, including that August 5 is like Diwali and Independence Day for the refugees.

West Pakistan refugees after migrating settled primarily in R S Pura, Akhnoor, Samba, Hiranagar and Jammu. At the moment there are over 1.5 lakh refugees within the Union territory, and in response to the WPRAC official have remained economically and socially backward. “We needed to wrestle for fundamental wants and the precise to dwell in India,” he mentioned. After the scrapping of Article 370, West Pakistan refugees, Valmikis and Gurkhas can now vote in native elections, buy land and apply for jobs in Jammu and Kashmir, and in addition to these, they’ll additionally contest elections.

Round 14,000 Valmikis, who reside in Jammu and Kashmir, can now additionally change their occupation, in response to the Valmiki Samaj. Its president Gaurav Bhati mentioned getting voting rights is a welcome improvement. “We’ll contest polls and in addition vote. We will now change to different jobs. This was lengthy overdue, he mentioned.


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