Srinagar: Mainstream parties as well as separatist groups of Jammu and Kashmir today voiced opposition to any move by the Central government to grant permanent residency status and voting rights to West Pakistan Refugees, who have settled in various parts of the state.
National Conference even threatened agitation if any such move was initiated by the Centre on the recommendations of a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
"We will launch an agitation if that happens. We will protest it," NC leader Mohd Akbar Lone told reporters while commenting on the recommendations of the Committee for giving residency and voting rights to West Pakistan refugees
Around 5,764 families consisting of 47,215 persons, who migrated from West Pakistan, have got settled in different areas of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts decades back, as per the union Home Ministry data. However, they are not permanent residents of the state as per the J&K Constitution.
Prior to creation of Bangladesh in 1971, current Pakistan was known as West Pakistan. East Pakistan became Bangladesh.
Moderate Hurriyat Conference also opposed the Committee's recommendations for the permanent settlement of West Pakistan refugees in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was an attempt to tamper with the demography of the state.
"The Hurriyat is extremely concerned by what seems to be a vigorous effort to meddle with the demography of Jammu and Kashmir to change the facts on the ground with the eventual aim of subverting the people's right of self-determination," it said in a statement after a meeting here.
It described the Centre's move as "forcible integration and assimilation of the internationally disputed state".