Kavita Suri

Table of Contents

   Profile
   Interviews
   Pre-2002 Publications
   2002 Publications
   2003 Publications
   Statesman Publications
   Kashmiri Writers
  Download Book

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
Loading...

Resettlement Act - Would it repeat the horrors of partition?

Way back in 1982, a young National Conference legislator was moved by the plight of the people who had come from Pakistan and wanted to stay on in the valley in their own houses but could not do so as there was no legal provision for the same. They could not stay beyond the specified period in “their own land where they were born and brought up”. This “human tragedy” moved the NC legislator so much that he studied Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and also the Constitution of India and discovered that there were provisions recognizing the state subject and citizenship rights, but there was no specific Act. There he took up the gigantic task of  ‘removing this barrier for the sake of the reunion of those wishing to come and stay back’. And the J&K Resettlement Bill came into existence.  The Bill was introduced in the Assembly as a private member’s Bill in March 1982. Though the Assembly first passed the Bill in April 1982, the then Governor B.K.Nehru had not given his assent at that time. In an unprecedented move, he had referred the Bill to the Attorney General of India for legal opinion and after receiving the same; he sent the bill back to the legislature for reconsideration on the ground that it suffered from certain deficiencies. The Bill was reconsidered by the assembly and after a heated debate, re-passed on 4 October 1982,in its original form. and had sent it back to the legislature for reconsideration. On 30 September, 1982, the then President Giani Zail Singh had placed the Resettlement Bill, also know as Bill no 9, to the constitutional bench of the apex court seeking advice after a political storm raged throughout the country. But during the pendency of the reference, the legislature passed it in its autumn session within a month of Dr Farooq Abdullah becoming chief minister on 4 October 1982. The Governer, left with no option, gave his assent to the Bill on 6 October.Thus the Act was twice passed by the state legislature in April and October 1982. It was a major issue during the June 1983 Assembly elections.  Abdul Rahim Rather - that young National Conference legislator who is now the state finance minister, is a happy man today. For the Supreme Court of India has returned the Presidential reference on the Bill of 1982 that had raised a political storm in J&K. The Resettlement Bill came to focus early last month when the Supreme Court while returning the 19-year old Presidential reference observed: ”Having regard to the fact that that the Bill became an Act as far back as in 1982, it appears to us inexpedient to answer the question in affirmative, we would be unable to strike down the Act in this proceeding.”   The Act enables J&K residents who had left for Pakistan between 1 March 1947 to 15 May 1954 to return and claim their property and resettle in the statement, basically with the objective to reunite the families divided during the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.   But the storm created by the Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act refuses to subside in the state. There has a strong reaction, as many people in the state believe that the issue that was in cold storage is National Conference’s politics of communalism. People of Jammu think that is a deliberate attempt of the NC government to change the demography of their region and to woo a section of society, eyeing the forthcoming Assembly elections. Various parties like Congress, BJP, All Parties Jammu Statehood Movement (APJSM), Pathers Party etc have warned the National Conference of serious consequences if the Resettlement Act was not repealed as they believe that the implementation of the Act has dangerous implications and an ulterior motive to divide the state on communal lines. Many questions also haunt the people in the state. Would anyone come back from Pakistan to reclaim properties leaving behind the properties that they own in that country? Would terrorists, under the garb of the descendents of the Kashmiris come and add to the volatile situation in the state to fulfill Pakistan’s longtime agenda? Would it not open floodgates for other undesirable elements to come and settle in the state? What will be the fate of those in occupation of the land and properties of those who migrated to Pakistan in 1947.And what about the recent judgement of the Supreme Court delivered by Mr Justice R.P.Sethi which says that anybody occupying Evacuee property (property which was left behind by those who went to Pakistan) for more than 12 years, will have the right on it and even if anybody from across the border comes back, he would have no right on property. Other opinion is that the permission to Pakistan or PoK migrants to claim their properties and other rights in the state would create an atmosphere of uncertainty among the residents who have occupied evacuee land for the last 54 years.  They fear that the original occupants would reclaim their properties if they come back taking advantage of the provisions of the Resettlement Act. While Jammu has reacted very sharply to the Act, in Kashmir it has failed to strike an emotional chord and people have ignored it in Valley like autonomy resolution which the state government had adopted in the state assembly on 26 June 2000. But as SC’s observations uphold the validity of the law, now it is for the state government to implement it by appointing a competent authority.  

But before the implementation of this Act, many other related questions still remain unanswered. While the state government has been planning to bring back Kashmiris who had migrated from the state to Pakistan, hundreds and thousands of refugees who had come from Pakistan to the state of Jammu and Kashmir have still not been provided their rights. These comprise of Mirpur refugees, West Pakistan refugees and Chamb refugees. Quite critical of the apathetic attitude of the state government towards them, they have been demanding their rehabiliation for the past 54 years. But all these requests have fallen on deaf ears. ”What is our fault that we came to India from Pakistan? Even after 54 years, we could not get our Permanent Resident Certificate from the J&K government. Even though we have sacrificed our children fighting three wars with Pakistan besides terrorism, we are refugees in our own country,”complained Surinder Singh, a migrant of 1947 from Pakistan adding that their children can neither join government jobs nor get admission in colleges .At the same time, the NC government is trying to bring back those people who have harbouring militants and imparting them arms training. Many others in the state believe that the Resettlement Act is nothing but the gameplan of Farooq to blackmail the Centre to get more funds. One of the most vocal voices against the implementation of this Act in 1982 is of the Union Food Processing minister Prof Chaman Lal Gupta. While reacting strongly to the NC government bringing back the controversial Act, he said that it would meet same fate as that of autonomy. He warned the NC government to desist from creating controversies. The Act, it seems, has also strained BJP ties with the NC government as the state BJP has threatened the latter to be prepared for a strong agitation if it does not repeal it, but the ruling party is also in no mood to repeal it. Says state Law minister Mr. Mushtaq Lone: ”There is no question of repealing the Act as it is a law and it cannot be repealed.”  The voices favouring the Act argue that if the Indian Parliament, as per its 1994 resolution, says that the entire PoK is our and we have to take it back, then there is nothing wrong if all those people who migrated from India to Pakistan come back. “Besides under article 370, we have kept vacant Assembly seats for PoK people. Pakistan has forcibly occupied our area, which is PoK, and we are bound to get it back,” argued a National Conference supporter.  However, a petition challenging the constitutional validity of this controversial Act 1982 has been filed in the Supreme Court by the Panthers Party on the ground that the Act threatened the unity and integrity of the country. The petition read:”The implementation of the Act could bring more than 200,000 Pakistani including descendents of those who were born in Pakistan and many trained under Taliban. Even Taliban with fraudulent certificates as descendents of any one can settle anywhere is India and the consequences are obvious.”It also said such legislation was the sole jurisdiction of the Parliament and the state neither had the competence nor jurisdiction to legislate with respect with respect to citizenship rights. The state chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, on the other hand, believes that the issue has been blown out of proportion by few vested interests in the state politics. “Resettlement Bill issue is over. It is a law in the state but I don’t think anybody should get upset by it,”he said adding it would not open floodgates for anyone to come to J&K.It is not that anybody can just walk in. It is the Government of India’s Home Ministry that had to grant visa and determine the citizenship. No one can come without the permission of the Home Ministry. ”Those Kashmiris who had migrated to Pakistan between 1947 and 1954 would have to seek proper citizenship from the Government of India if they intend to return,”he said refuting the allegations that his party was trying to use it as one of the poll issue s in the forthcoming assembly elections.”Even in 1983 elections, I never used it as a poll used. But the BJP and Congress did so,”he added.  During the 1983 assembly elections in the state, Congress had made a big issue of this Act against the National Conference and had got 24 out of 26 seats in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region while the NC had secured huge majority in the valley.   But the state Congress president Mohammed Shafi Qureshi denies that his party had played the Resettlement Act as an election card during the June 1983 Assembly elections.”My party does not believe in causing communal polarization in any part of the country. Instead, National Conference’s demand for greater autonomy and that of implementing the regional Autonomy committee report were aimed at causing “communal and regional tensions”, he adds. In the days to come, it seems the controversy surrounding the Resettlement Act will linger on as the Jammu and Kashmir government has firmly ruled out repealing of the Act. Instead, it has now also decided to set up a competent authority under the Act that will take up the claims of PoK residents on their property and right to live in their native place. EOM 

Few portions of the Resettlement Bill of 1982 The Resettlement Bill makes a provision for the return of all those persons who were class I and Class II state subjects before 14 May, 1954 and had migrated to the territory now included in Pakistan after 1 March, 1947, or for widows, wives and descendents of such state subjects to the state. The purpose of the Bill is to provide a chance of reunion to the hard-pressed blood relations who were separated by the crucial circumstances of 1947.The permanent residents are entitled to have  *Employment under the state government *Acquisition of immovable property in the state *Settlement in the state *Right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the state government may provide. Consequently, “permanent residents” of the state who return will need neither a passport nor an immigration certificate. They will not even have to register themselves after they come back to India. All that the law requires of them is that they should be in possession of a valid permit for resettlement or permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law of the state legislature in this respect. 

Kavita Suri's Page

 

JOIN US

Facebook Account Follow us and get Koshur Updates Youtube.com Video clips Image Gallery

 | Home | Copyrights | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement | Credits | Site Map | LinksContact Us |

Any content available on this site should NOT be copied or reproduced

in any form or context without the written permission of KPN.