West Pakistan Refugees may take up arms if not given PRC in J&K: Labha Ram Gandhi

The refugees, who are currently living in three border districts of Jammu, Samba and Kathua plan to choke Kashmir, by not allowing any movement via Jammu.

A CRPF Jawan uses a catapult to disperse protesters during clashes at Nowhatta in Srinagar. Clashes broke out following a protest called by Hurriyat Conference against the issuing of domicile certificates to West Pakistan Refugees.
SAMBA: The West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee president Labha Ram Gandhi threatened that the unemployed refugee youngsters may take up arms if their demand of permanent citizenship in Jammu and Kashmir was not met immediately.

The refugees, who are currently living in three border districts of Jammu, Samba and Kathua plan to choke Kashmir, by not allowing any movement via Jammu, the only land connection of Valley with the country. Then Labha, says they will appeal to Hindu brethren across the India for help, who they expect to ‘empathize and respond accordingly thus making Kashmiris living across India vulnerable like what happened to Sikhs in 1984.’

Labha, who has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi twice in as many years, claims that the PM has assured them of granting permanent resident certificates in the state and they expect to be voting in the next assembly elections.

This humanitarian issue Labha said, has remained unresolved for 70 years and their anxiety and patience is crossing the limit, which was a bad news for both center and state governments. “We are just waiting for Uttar Pradesh elections to get over. We don’t want to create any headache for BJP right now. Then you will see.” His pictures with Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and union minister Dr Jitender Singh adorn the wall of his one room office in Samba.

According to Labha, WPRs, who migrated mainly from Sialkot of Pakistan in 1947, are around 20,000 families right now. However, a senior minister in PDP-BJP coalition government said the number could be around 30,000 families. Opposition National Conference has protested against the settling of WPRs in the state, saying it was aimed at eroding special status of the state. Hurriyat Conference terms the settlement of WPRs in Jammu as part of ‘Hindutva Agenda’ to change the demography of the state. J&K government recently issued identity certificates to WPRs which political opponents of PDP-BJP coalition referred to as step towards granting them the PRCs.

“These youngsters ask me everyday: Aap Humain Hukum Dein…Every household has at least three unemployed men,” Labha told ET, while pointing at a few teenage refugees in his office, who nodded in affirmative. “I am trying to pacify people, but there could be some else who will say let us all take up arms. What will you do then? When clashes start everything is made available then,” cautions Labha.

“We know where Kashmiris get arms from, but where are Maoists getting their arms and ammunition? UP has a lot of weapons. It is about Junoon. When a certain environment is created then you cannot stop,” Labha stated.

The refuge leader warned that a communal situation is brewing in Jammu and Rohingya refugees--who are mostly muslims--and are also settled in Jammu as foreign refugees would be the first target.

And referring to Hurriyat’s opposition to the settlement of WPRs, Labha said, “If they will not fall in line, things will turn ugly. We will then appeal to people across India and apprise them about our issues. They will empathize and answer. And all Kashmiris living in India will be vulnerable. Only then these people (Valley) will stay indoor and stop shouting making noise. Has this not happened before?”

He added, “What happened to Sikhs, two or three people killed Indira Gandhi and whole community had to face the consequence because of the Junoon. You cannot control that.”

Labha regularly meets senior officials in Home Ministry and claims that he doesn’t want to beg before the J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. “We have a strong government in center. May be they have conveyed something Mehbooba Mufti regarding us,” he said.
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