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Valmiki community, West Pakistan Refugees oppose Gupkar alliance

By Ravi Krishnan Khajuria | Hindustan Times/Jammu, Jammu
UPDATED ON NOV 08, 2020 12:14 AM IST

Valmiki communities and West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) criticised the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) for seeking restoration of the ‘highly discriminatory Articles 370 and 35-A’ on Saturday.

Valmiki community leader Gharu Bhatti said, “They never met us before. Today, too, they did not sought a meeting with us. They met different delegations from civil society but we were not invited.”

“If Article 370 is restored. What will be our fate? Will we again be relegated to second-class citizens? The PAGD leaders don’t value us. They ruined Kashmir and want to do the same in Jammu,” said Bhatti.

He said, “We were the biggest victims of the highly-discriminatory Articles (370 and 35-A). If these article are restored again, will we again be given brooms and continue to work as safai karamcharis. We were brought here in 1957 from Gurdaspur and Amritsar on the assurance of the then Prime Minister of J&K Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed that we will be given permanent resident status and other privileges. But for 62 years we worked as sweepers irrespective of our educational qualifications. We were not entitled to apply for any other government jobs,” said Bhatti. He also demanded that arrest warrants be issued against the leaders for ‘seditious remarks pertaining to the Tricolour and China.

West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee chairperson Labha Ram Gandhi said they too were opposed to the PAGD.

“I appeal to the people of Jammu to boycott them. They will ruin Jammu as well. If India has become one nation then what’s wrong in it,” he said. If industries come to Jammu, there will be more jobs for the youth, said Gandhi.

Gandhi represents 1.25 lakh West Pak refugees, belonging to scheduled castes and backward classes. Before August 5, 2019 West Pak refugees were not considered residents of the erstwhile state and were not entitled to jobs and admission to professional courses. They had fled Pakistan from Sialkot during Partition and settled in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.

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