The West Pakistan refugees have expressed deep resentment over the silence of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) on granting them permanent citizenship rights and threatened to take to the streets once again. The Congress has said it has exposed the real face of the BJP.
"The BJP by this compromise has belittled the sacrifices made by Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Pandit Prem Nath Dogra. It's very disappointing. We shall give some time to the government, but if nothing moves soon, we will again take to the streets," said Labha Ram, chairman, West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee.
The CMP says that the government will take measures for sustenance and livelihood of the West Pakistan refugees. The Joint Parliamentary Committee in its report submitted in January has recommended that the central government should impress upon the state government to grant permanent citizenship rights to these refugees as one time measure.
These refugees have migrated in 1947 from Pakistan and as such can't buy a land or apply for the government jobs as they are not permanent citizens of the state as per the state laws. The 80% of them are Scheduled Castes.
"These refugees have been earning livelihood for all these years by different means. It's not livelihood but the citizenship which is the main question. The BJP, which has championed itself as the guardian of the Jammu region has made an abject surrender just for the sake of power," said former minister and senior Congress leader Sham Lal Sharma.
The population of refugees is about one lakh and they have been demanding citizenship rights for several decades now. The observers say the CMP language is very ambiguous on the issue.
"The BJP should have put the foot down on this issue as it has been supporting them since long. They (BJP) have befooled the people of the Jammu region and their real face stands exposed now," said Jagdeep Raj, a West Pakistan refugee working at a tea stall.