Samba, August 17: The abrogation of Article 370 has come as a ray of hope for nearly 21,000 families who migrated to India from Pakistan after partition. West Pakistan refugees, as they are known, fled Pakistan due to religious violence triggered by the partition in 1947 and settled in the border district of Samba. Barred from government jobs, admission in colleges and scholarships, welfare schemes, and right to own land, they have been living 'stateless' within India for more than 70 years.
Now, things are all set for a change after the Parliament voted to strip Jammu and Kashmir of the special status it had been enjoying for decades. Hoping for a dignified life in future, they hail Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking the decision which, they said, successive governments at Centre could not take. Article 370 Removal Will Result in End of Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Says Home Minister Amit Shah.
"Muslims in Pakistan did not let us live there. We migrated to India but our condition remained almost the same. When we go to get our children admitted to educational institutes or ask government jobs, we are asked to produce residence certificates. When I go to Tehsil to get one, they tell us that we are West Pakistanis. Where should we go?" Dima Chand told ANI. Bugadita expressed his happiness over the government's move to abrogate Article 370 and conversion of the state into a Union Territory.
"We are very happy. Modi ji has taken a very good decision," he said. Jeet Raj, in his 50s, got emotional while talking about their life so far. He alleged that their representatives met senior representatives of the Central government in 2008 but they did nothing for them.
"In 2008, we went to Delhi to talk to the government. Initially, they refused to meet us but they met as we continue to stay there for several days. They said they will consider our demand about rights and they are still mulling over it," he said.
Education and government jobs are major concerns, they said. A girl, who studies at a school here, said the move will especially benefit youngsters as they can pursue higher studies and get jobs in the newly-created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. "Since we were not state subjects, we were denied jobs despite being educated," she said.