People staying back in Gilgit Baltistan have started receiving some attention of India

29 Sep 2016 12:13:57



Daya Sagar

In a way, so far the people of the areas of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir as have been occupied through  aggression by Pakistan have remained neglected, discriminated and unattended from strategic, political , economic, social and constitutional angles. Needs to recover the areas of J&K that were occupied by Pakistan in 1947 and thereafter are often stressed by some but stress, so far, has been more from defence strategic point of view. Thatway any other state  that borders some other countryalso has some defence strategic concern, then why only talk of J&K? That way Punjab, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh too have strategic positions. So, the importance of Indian state of J&K should not be seen only for its having borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and China . But it should be more seen as India and discussions should be focused more on this aspect.

It was in 1947 that the people of India accepted the unfortunate fortunes written through an Act of British Parliament known as Indian Independence Act 1947 thereby ordering to cut some areas out of Bharat to be exclusively kept for those who did not want to stay in Independent India with those who practiced a religion other than Islam.  

It was  for the convenience of governance that  the British had divided British Indian Empire  into British India and  & Indian Princely States. Pakistan was cut out of British India only. No area of J&K was included in areas marked for Pakistan as per Indian Independence Act 1947 since this princely state was outside British India. And the Prince of J&K acceded with India Dominion on 26th Oct 1947 but  before that Pakistan had started invasion on Princely state of J&K.

As per Annual Administration Report of the J&K State for the Samvat 1997/98 ( 16 Oct 1940 to 15 Oct 1941 ) the area of Jammu&Kashmir State including the jurisdictional Jagirs of Poonch and Chenani is approximately 86071 miles / 223104 sqkms  ( 84471 sq miles / 218957 sq km plus 1600 sq mile /4147.2 sq km ) . As per the website of J&K Raj Bhawan out of 2, 22,236 sq. kms area of Indian State  ofJ&K 78114 sq. kms is  under illegal occupation of Pakistan  and 42685 sq km is under China . Whereas  as per a Planning Commission Report Chapter VI page 336 ,37555 Sq Km area was occupied by China in 1962 and control of 5180 Sq km out of the J&K areas occupied by Pakistan was given to China in 1963 by Pakistan ( 5158 sq km also as per reply to Rajay Sabha Q­ 367 – Chandra Mitra – as given on 15-03-2012 ).. 

As per a  website of ‘Pakistan’ the areas of J&K with Pakistan are  (i) 13297 sq km called as Azad Kashmir by Pakistan ( languages spoken there are Pahari , Mirpuri, Gojri, Hindi, Punjabi, Pashto, Kishmiri )  and  (ii) another 72496 sq km called Northern Areas  by Pakistan(Gilgit Baltistan ­people there speak Shina language and can speak & understand Urdu and English) . Any how  the areas displayed on some sites even by Indian agencies do not exactly match but still the figures given here could be  fairly used for taking  idea of the  areas under occupation of Pakistan  that needed attention of GOI  but have not received the needed  care.  

All these years a very large area of J&K  as occupied by Pakistan ( Gilgit Baltistan 72497 sq km ) and the people there have remained un addressed by India. Socio economic focus of Indian leadership ,so far, has been more only on the areas ( approximately 13297 sq km ) of the erstwhile districts of Mirpur and Muzaffrabad of J&K ( Oct 1947). Such approach has in a way provided enough of opportunity to Pakistan / some local leaders to exploit the people living back in occupied areas of Gilgit – Baltistan in the name of religion accusing India of not owning them.

Any how now on 15th August 2016 Indian Prime Minister has pointedly addressed the areas and people of Gilgit Baltistan also.   But much more has to be  done.Government of India must even rework on the terminology  adopted so far ,thereby, using  POJK instead  POK  used for areas occupied by Pakistan as of Indian state of J&K and when ever the areas included in POJK are to be referred that should be  like Mirpur, Muzaffrabad, Gilgit , Baltistan and not as POK & Gilgit Baltistan.

 

What to talk of people staying back in POJK even those from POJK staying in India are facing neglect:

People of the areas of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir as have been occupied by aggression by Pakistan have broadly remained neglected and  discriminated both within India as well as in the areas under occupation of Pakistan.

What to talk of people staying back in the Pakistan occupied areas of Indian state of J&K like Mirpur, Kotli, Muzaffrabad, Gilgit, Baltistan and like  even those who were displaced from areas occupied by Pakistan in 1947 have remained unattended after having moved to other safer areas of J&K in Indian control and to other Indian states.

Even no any formal exercise has been done neither by Government of India nor by J&K State Government  for  registration and knowing the number of families who managed to escape from the  areas of J&K occupied by  invaders in 1947/48 and the families that were physically eliminated by the invaders. The families displaced from Pakistan occupied areas of Indian state of J&K were officially named Displaced Persons ( DPs)  vide order No:  1476-C of 1950 dated 16.12.1950 issued under the signatures of the then Prime Minister of J&K Sheikh Mohd Abdullah.

It is now  more than six decades and people known as POJK DPs are in 2016 still running from pillar to post for socio- economic support  and claims of their properties left back in areas occupied by Pakistan. Although the present BJP lead Union Government has talked of some one time settlement for them and some amount of about Rs.2000 Cr has been allocated for disbursement to some displaced families  from POJK. But that too has been pushed into many controversies , undefined criteria & norms for deciding payments , treatment to be given to the families who have been left out of the draft proposals made. So strangely the draft estimates have been  drawn out even by excluding  some families that are listed in records( 5300 families in 1947)  with  the governments but settled outside J&K , what to talk of those families who are not even  registered with the government.

The draft policy disclosed by J&K Government in March 2016 for making some payments to  POJK DPs  in lieu of their claims of properties left behind in POJK (POK) reveals much more . On 19th March 2016 a  public notice was issued by Deputy Commissioner Jammu inviting suggestions / comments upto 30 March 2016 on the draft procedure / guidelines as drawn by J&K Government  for implementation of  Scheme “Disbursement of Relief of Rs.2000 Cr sanctioned by Ministry of Home Affairs GOI as one time settlement to Displaced Persons of 1947, 1965, 1971” as published on website  jammu.gov.in.” The draft guidelines prepared by  J&K Government in March 2016 used the  term ‘one time settlement’  reflecting  that all displaced families will paid ‘equal’ amount .The draft note circulated on web no where mentioned the basis and amount of one time settlement Clause (2) of the draft guidelines  defined the DP from Pakistan occupied areas of J&K  in 1947  as any permanent resident of J&K  who left his place of residence  or was displaced after 1 March 1947 due to disturbances in view of 1947 partition of India  from the areas occupied by Pakistan and is residing outside such area ( occupied by Pakistan)  in the ‘state’ {see  Displaced Persons (Settlement) Act -1971}. Even  the number of 1947 POJK DPs settled outside J&K as has been quoted as 5300 families even in the report of a Parliamentary Subcommittee of Ministry of Home Affairs  GOI laid in Lok Sabha on 22th December 2014 had been excluded from the scheme and  from the definition of the stake holders ( DPs). It is not out of place to mention here that even the Parliamentary sub committee had .suggested for appointing a regular nodal officer and registration / number count of left over families.

It was vide letter No: RAHAB-9/II/79 dated 27.11.79  of Secretary to Government of J&K Rehabilitation ( 1974) Department  that in reply to letter No : RS5(18)/78-Com II from a Committee on Petitions (a petition signed by Bachan      Singh Panchi President Jammu Kashmir Sharnarthi Action Committee was presented in Rajya Sabha on 26 December 1978  by Sheikh Abdul Rehman) submitted that  (a) there was no department known as Rehabilitation Department in existence at that time  and the size of problem of displaced persons uprooted from Pakistan Occupied areas  of J&K was enormous (b) a large number of DPs went out side J&K State (c) there was no agency to register these refugees immediately  on their entry into the State. The committee on petitions was told in 1978/80 that in all 31696 applications  were received for ex gratia grant ; 263 families were not paid ex gratia because the income being more than Rs.300 pm and 344 applications had been rejected because applicants had not migrated along with head of family  with in the crucial migration period. The number of families of POJK DPs is often quoted as 31619  but the question is  when applications were never invited on all India basis for general  registration how could numbers for 1947 DPs families  can be quoted as 31619 ?. The report (Sixty second report 11.04.1980) of Committee on    Petitions headed by Bipinpal Das (MP)  was presented in Rajya Sabha on 13.06.1980. It is nearly 36 years now after the report was presented but even in 2016 neither GOI nor J&K Government  can tell what is the population of the Displaced persons  from Pakistan occupied areas of J&K who are staying in J&K and other parts of India what to talk of the population , miseries  and problems of the people of Indian state of J&K staying back in Pakistan Occupied areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, Skardu, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Kotli , Bhimber, Chamb etc.   

Rather it could be said that 1947 POJK DPs  have been and are the first victim of the Pakistan sponsored terrorism and anti India activities

 

Majority of the families who were displaced from areas of Indian State of J&K as were occupied by Pakistan (POJK DPs) in 1947 and thereafter were from the Jammu and Ladakh region of J&K. The families displaced from POJK  were not treated like the refugees from West Pakistan by Government of India as regards payments for the left over property / assets claims and other rehabilitations measures since government of India is holding the opinion that the occupied areas are Indian territories to be recovered from ‘Pakistan’.. Even after 1947 some more areas of J&K including Chamb were left by India  with Pakistan after 1971 Indo Pak war. Rather it could be said that 1947 POJK DPs  have been and are the first victim of the Pakistan sponsored terrorism and anti India activities . But now it is nearly 7 decades that they are away from their ‘hearths’ and have not been paid any claims for the properties left behind and given any special assistance for their socio-economic  rehabilitation.

 It may surprise many that neither GOI nor J&K Government can this day tell the number of the families that were displaced from the Mirpur District, Muzaffrabad district, Gilgit, Baltistan, Skardu and like areas in 1947. Ofcourse no claims of properties left back have been paid to them. As per unofficial quotes more than 15000 - 20000 families might have lost their dear ones while fleeing  from the occupied areas and about 3000- 5000  families might have been fully eliminated. The unofficial quotes of ‘elders’ may not be that exact but can surely present the agony that the uprooted families might faced in 1947. Many of the families could not even carry with them their property docs and other records. As  per recently disclosed figures by J&K Government out of the 31619 families in record  with government 5300 went to other Indian states. Here too since no any regular registration was done the number could be much more. Incase it is assumed that total number of families may be around 40000 to 45000 in 1947  then due to splits and growth the number of families in 2016 may be more than 130000 to 150000.

Therefore, the need is more to address the people and areas of J&K that are under the occupation of Pakistan and people ( DPs)  on Indian side  who are from POJK Government of India must set first priorities for addressing at   the international level to the problems of the People staying       back  in Gilgit , Baltistan, Mirpur, Muzaffrabad , Kotli ,Bhimber, & Chamb  and  at the internal level to the needs /problems / pending claims of  POJK DPs.

(a) The plight of POJK DPs could be well seen from the fact in J&K there is no regular full time designated officer / department to take stock of the data, demands, representations and requirements of the POJK DPs. 

(b)Government must first know the actual number of POJK DP Families displaced in 1947.For this GOI /J&K Government must issue a general notification inviting applications from all the POJK DP families for registration without fixing any condition as had been done in 1960s while inviting applications for proposed ex gratia grants .

©OJK DPs should be asked to provide details of their    properties left behind , if needed assistance be given for collecting old documents from POJK Authorities since some official activities across LOC have been started  and the DPs will be asked  to provide information after 7 decades.

(d)  DPs who have gone to other Indian states should be given the State Subjects / Permanent Resident Certificates ( PRC)  on the basis of the certification from their relations holding a PRC ( as per government sources details of such 5300 families in 1947 are there with the Government and so strangely the present draft proposals being considered for some grants / settlement amount by Government have excluded even these POJK DPs who settled outside J&K from the ‘stakeholders’ ).  

(e)  Formal orders be issued  by J&K Government  mentioning Muzaffrabad, Gilgit, Baltistan like areas in the jurisdiction of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Mirpur, Kotli etc in the Jurisdiction of Divisional Commissioner. They could also be designated as Appellate Authority for POJK DPs.

(f) A full-fledged department be established for POJK DPs whose number might have grown to  around 130000 to 150000 families in 2016 as custodian of records/ data pertaining to DPs as well as for processing their cases for registration, assistance, compensations , grants, documentation .

(g) Since the redressal of their claims has been greatly delayed , keeping in view that the claims had become due in 1950s  an on account payment of Rs.30 to 50  Lakh ( could be decided ) could be immediately paid to each family that is registered with Government  and the balances can be paid after the appointed agency / department works out the actual due amount. An asset / amount of just Rs.10000 in 1947 would have surely grown to atleast Rs.50,00,000/= to Rs.100,00,000/=  depending upon location by day’s standards so the on account payment of Rs 30 to  50 Lac to all would be very much safe. In the meantime the data base of others could also be built up and executed in the regular process. It is very unfair to deny the due  benefits and considerations to POJK displaced families  simply with a  plea that in case they are granted compensations, India would lose claim on POJK territory.

(h) Since no regular monthly relief / capital assistance/ special treatments in recruitments  or education or settlement of trade were given to POJK DPs at any  time, some special package could be given to the new generations.

(i) In case GOI is still hopeful for early return of POJK DPs to their lands , still they need to be compensated for the loss suffered by them due to delay.  

(g) Agricultural lands so far allotted should be completed to the size as was determined by the then Joint Rehabilitation Board headed by  Major General Tara Singh i.e land measuring 12 acres  Abi or 18 AcresKhushkee per family keeping in view the genuine needs as exited at that time. (h) Originally 25 seats out of 100 in the J&K Legislative Assembly were kept for the POJK areas (Mirpur, Muzaffrabad, Gilgit, Baltistan and like) . Later on the POJK seats were reduced from 25 to 24 seats by 12th Constitutional amendment   amending  Clause (a) of Section 48 of J&K Constitution on 19- 08­1975. J&K Legislature could consider further amending Section­48   of J&K Constitution for taking out some seats out of 24 seats for POJK so that POJK DPs staying on this side can send their representatives to J&K Legislative Assembly worth taking care of their unsettled demands / claims. (i) POJK DPs be  given reservations in education, recruitments and business loans  keeping in view that they have not been treated that compassionately in the initial stages / days of turmoil, rather not even till 2016. 

(j)  A token ex gratia  grant paid to some DPs in 1960 may be written off since it was so insignificant .(k) Appointment of a  high power  Commission for their welfare could be considered. 

 

Need is more to address people &  areas of J&K occupied by Pak as well as DPs in Indian side  from POJK:

Need is more to address people &  areas of J&K  occupied by ‘Pakistan’ through aggression in 1947 as well as DPs  ( displaced persons from the occupied areas ) staying in Indian side after fleeing  from POJK  in 1947 since these people are the first victim of any aggression made on Indian state of J&K by Pakistan after the ‘said’ country had taken birth out of the ‘two nation theory’ in 1947. 

Nearly 85% of the area of J&K occupied by Pakistan comprises of areas of Gilgit – Baltistan ( around  72497 sq km  as per Pakistan sources ) but till recently Indian leadership had never expressed pointedly some concern for the people living there.   Socio economic focus so far has been more only on the approximately 13297 sq km  of the  erstwhile Districts of Mirpur and Muzafarabad of J&K ( Oct 1947). Such approach has in a way provided enough of opportunity  to Pakistan / some local leaders to exploit the people living back in occupied areas of  Gilgit ­ Baltistan in the name of religion accusing India of not owning them. 

Such approach  also  provided  enough  grounds  to  some  people  of  Kashmir  Valley    that  formed  just 10% of the Total are of J&K in 1947 ( 22000 / 222236 sq km)  and presently just 7% ( 15948/  222236 sq km   ) of the total area as displayed in Indian sites to some  for raising Anti 1947 accession voice and above all unduly presenting Kashmir Valley as the sole representative voice of J&K  Where as even the Jammu region of 1947 forms 16.34 % (35315/ 222236)       of the total area of     J&K   and 11.12% (26294 / 222236) of    the toto area when the area occupied by Pakistan is excluded. Ladakh Region extends over 165000 sq km of which large area is under China occupation. It will be in great Indian interests to reorient the ‘vision’ J&K giving due consideration to areas and people other than Kashmir Valley.

Majority of the families who were displaced from areas of Indian State of J&K as were occupied by Pakistan (POJK DPs) in 1947 and thereafter were from the Jammu and Ladakh region of J&K. The families displaced from POJK  were not treated like the refugees from West Pakistan by Government of India as regards payments for the left over property / assets claims and other rehabilitations measures since government of India is holding the opinion that the occupied areas are Indian territories to be recovered back . Rather it could be said that 1947 POJK DPs  have been and are the first victim of the Pakistan sponsored terrorism and anti India activities . But now it is nearly 7 decades that they are away from their ‘hearths’ and have not been paid any claims for the properties left behind and given any special assistance for their socio-economic  rehabilitation.

It may surprise many that neither GOI nor J&K Government can this day tell the number of the families that were displaced from the Mirpur District, Muzaffrabad district, Gilgit, Baltistan, Skardu and like areas in 1947. Ofcourse no claims of properties left back have been paid to them. As per unofficial quotes more than 15000- 20000 families might have lost their dear ones while fleeing  from the occupied areas and about 3000 - 5000  families might have been fully eliminated. The unofficial quotes of ‘elders’ may not be that exact but can surely present the agony that the uprooted families might faced in 1947.  Many of the families could not even carry with them their property and other records. As  per recently disclosed figures by J&K Government out of the 31619 families 5300 went to other Indian states. Here too since no any regular registration was done the number could be much more. Incase it is assumed that total number of families may be around 40000 to 45000 in 1947  then due to splits and growth the number of families in 2016 may be more than 130000 to 150000.

The plight of POJK DPs could be well seen from the fact in J&K there is no regular full time designated officer / department to take stock of the data, demands, representations and requirements of the POJK DPs. As stated earlier , not only that the draft policy disclosed by J&K Government in March 2016 for making some payments to  POJK DPs  in lieu of their claims of properties left behind in POJK (POK) reveals so simply shows  how non seriously their case is being taken even after more than 6 decades of their displacement. .  

On 19th March 2016 a  public notice was issued by Deputy Commissioner Jammu inviting suggestions / comments upto 30 March 2016 on the draft procedure / guidelines as drawn by J&K Government  for implementation of  Scheme “Disbursement of Relief of Rs.2000 Cr sanctioned by Ministry of Home Affairs GOI as one time settlement to Displaced Persons of 1947, 1965, 1971” as published on website  jammu.gov.in.” From the notice, inviting suggestions, though it could be said that  the basic needs for carrying out  the exercise had been sensed to some extent  but for successful execution of a  scheme worth settling the grievances much more was needed to be done. In this regard I too submitted my observations to the authorities on 20th March 2016 and have yet to receive response.

Earlier also on  16th January 2016  a   representation was submitted to Hon’ble Governor J&K  and copy of same was also sent to DC Jammu. Among other things the draft guidelines prepared by  J&K Government in March 2016 suffered from serious discrepancies like  (i) The use of term ‘one time settlement’  was un realistic in view of  total amount being only Rs.2000 Cr and  it reflected from the draft  that all will paid ‘equal’ amount as one time settlement . The real nomenclature could be  “ON Account Payment” to be adjusted against final claims that would be worked out on the basis of individual claim data and norms fixed thereof (ii) The draft note circulated on web no where mentioned the basis and amount of one time settlement (iii) the 1947 POJK DPs who are not staying in J&K / did not find it feasible after 1947 displacement worth survival  to settle with in J&K   had been excluded from the Scheme, how unfair. The clause (2) of the draft guidelines  defined the DP from Pakistan occupied areas of J&K  in 1947  as any permanent resident of J&K  who left his place of residence  or was displaced after 1 March 1947 due to disturbances in view of 1947 partition of India  from the areas occupied by Pakistan and is residing outside such area ( occupied by Pakistan)  {see  Displaced Persons (Settlement) Act -1971}. Even  the number of 1947 POJK DPs settled outside J&K as has been quoted as 5300 families even in the report of a Parliamentary Subcommittee of Ministry of Home Affairs  GOI laid in Lok Sabha on 22th December 2014 had been excluded from the scheme and  from the definition of the stake holders ( DPs). So strangely even the POJK DPs bodies/ leaders   too have not taken the discrepancies in the 1971 Act that seriously. In a way J&K State  has disowned the displaced subjects of J&K from Pakistan occupied areas who had taken refuge in some other Indian state. It is not out of place to mention here that even the Parliamentary sub committee had .suggested for appointing a regular nodal officer for POJK DPs  in Delhi and a regular registration / number count of left over families.

 

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