Hardline separatists leader Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani on Mondau drew flak from Labha Ram, president of the West-Pakistan Refugees Association Committee, for opposing the settlement of the west-Pakistan refugees in the state. "J&K is not a property of Geelani. These separatists singing to the Pakistan's tune, which tries to dictate terms to the state government, which readily obliges them. National Conference (NC) and People's Democratic Party (PDP) also don't oppose statement fearing loss of votes. But, we are settled in the state since 1947 and can't be thrown out on whims and fancies of Geelani, who is on payroll of the Pakistan government,"said Labha Ram.
While addressing a seminar in Srinagar on Sunday, Geelani had said: "India wants to give them (refugees) franchise rights for the assembly elections to benefit pro-India parties. The refugees should be settled outside the state.
West Pakistan refugees, who had settled in J&K from Punjab province of Pakistan in 1947, have not been given Permanent Resident Certificate of the state so far. In its absence they can't be given jobs of the state government, can't get admission in government professional colleges and don't have voting rights in the assembly elections.
The central government has said it's keen for the early settlement of the refugees along with the return of Kashmiri Pandits. The then Vajpayee government had also initiated many steps for their settlement, which the new government wants to carry forward.
Former union minister in the Vajpayee government, MLA Prof Chaman Lal Gupta said "it speaks of the communal mindset".
"A humanitarian problem has been given communal colour and Kashmir-based mainstream parties are also not opposing it,"he added.
"Refugees from the Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) also came here and had been given equal rights. But the same are being opposed for these refugees. There is no logic. They have been denied basic rights for the last 67 years and people who oppose it should be taken to the task,"said Gupta.
The refugees have recently held a conference in Mumbai to highlight their problem. They are trying to build a national consensus to force the state government for their early settlement.