Disbursement of PoJK relief fund is yet to see the daylight

The Central government has decided to take disbursement of the package in its own hands. It has asked the State Government to furnish entire details of Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir a.k.a. PoJK refugees like their total number, heads of families, complete lists of beneficiaries along with their account numbers and other requisite formalities.

The Government of India has decided to directly transfer the package amount to the PoJK refugees through Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme and the same has been conveyed to the State government.

This decision came into action after BJP, which is in coalition with the PDP government in the state, expressed its disagreement with the given list of beneficiaries by the State government. The list which was prepared by the State government only consist names of 26,319 out of 36,384 families which are entitled to the relief fund. Narendra Singh, General Secretary of BJP in J&K, has claimed as per the reports that, 5300 families are excluded from the list of beneficiaries. Out of which 1,901 had settled in Delhi, 123 in Maharashtra, 495 in Rajasthan and 2,781 in other parts of the country.

He added, when these refugees shifted to India from PoJK, due to lack of job opportunities, many families moved to different part of the country. Just because they moved out of the J&K state it doesn’t take away their right to claim the relief fund issued by the Government of India.

This objection from BJP resulted in further delay in the disbursement of the sanctioned package which has led to protests by the PoJK refugees at many places.

A large number of refugee families led by Capt (Retd) Yudhvir Singh Chib and Sakandya Devi under the banner of PoJK DPs Front- 1947,65, 71 assembled at Exhibition Ground near Press Club in Jammu on 22 March at around 11 am and started protest demonstration.

Though the package had been released nearly three to four months back, barring a handful of persons who received the relief fund in the first batch on 30th December 2016, none of the beneficiaries have been paid the amount. The refugees from PoJK has been going through a turmoil to get the settlement money of Rs. 5.5 Lakh for each family, which government of India sanctioned back on 30th November 2016.

POJK refugee Front- 1947, 1965 and 1971, Vice President, Krishna Chib said that the procedure of preparing documents for providing relief amount out of Rs 2000 crore package has been made so tough by the State Government, the refugee families are moving from pillar to post for collecting documents. The officials have asked for the Permanent Residence Certificate, Legal heir certificates and Aadhar Card which many old people do not with them.

She added, families have increased in 5-6 folds since the first time families displaced from PoJK, which now are being counted as one family. Everyone is interested in taking their share from the sanctioned money which leaves them with very little amount. This leads to lack of interest in claiming the fund issued by the government. Moreover, many are being asked to produce ration cards of 1965 and 1971 during camp days, which they do not have now. The non-cooperative attitude of the officials of Revenue & Relief department has also increased the hardship faced by the refugees.

Adding to her words, the Youth President of POJK refugee Front- 1947, 1965 and 1971 said that the current government is still listening to our demands, unlike previous governments. We have seen some positive changes in the implementation of disbursement of relief package amongst the displaced population of PoJK. But, there are many other issues which the government needs to look after, there are many refugee families who are an exception in the given relief package. Some of them do not even a permanent residence certificate. We have demanded to include all those refugee families who are excluded from the relief fund.

Disbursement of relief of Rs 2000 crore to 36,384 families which were displaced from PoJK in 1947 after Indo-Pak War and of Chhamb area post-1965 and 1971 (camps as also non-camps), was sanctioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India as one-time settlement amount.

On the other side of the issue, refugees from West Pakistan comprising of 5,300 families are exempted from the PoJK relief fund. West Pakistan Refugees a.k.a WRF were proposed to get a claim on the relief fund sanctioned for the displaced refugees in 1947, 65, 71. WRF is supposedly worst affected category of the displaced persons in the wake of partition of the country and subsequent wars of 1965 and 1971 between India and Pakistan. Unlike PoJK refugees, they are not certified to the state subject as the West Pakistan is not part of J&K state geographically. Permanent Residence Certificate is one of the major requirement to claim the POJK relief fund.

In amidst of all the problems faced by PoJK refugees, a few has got the benefit out of it. The on-going rift between state and central government over the list of beneficiaries has further delayed the process of disbursement of the relief fund. How current coalition of PDP-BJP works to overcome their differences over this issue? Is yet to be seen.

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