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Refugees from Pakistan contributed to making of New India: Jitendra Singh

However, the Union Minister lamented that those who chose to settle in Jammu & Kashmir were not even granted the right to vote in assembly elections or to contest the elections till the abrogation of Article 370.

Statesman News Service | Jammu |

Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh, on Sunday, said that refugees from Pakistan have immensely contributed to the making of New India.

He said while two of the refugees from West Pakistan, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Inder Kumar Gujral, went on to become Prime Minister of India, the irony is that those of the refugees from the same category who chose to settle down in Jammu & Kashmir were not even granted the right to vote in the state assembly elections or to contest elections.

However, he said, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi corrected this anomaly on 5 August 2019 by abrogating Article 370. Now, even a refugee from Pakistan who settled in Jammu & Kashmir can contest the election and aspire to become a MLA or minister or even Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.

Dr Jitendra Singh was addressing a well-attended rally of West Pakistan refugees held close to the International Border (IB) here. Earlier, he went to Bagona, the native village of Brigadier Rajinder Singh, who had attained martyrdom during the Pakistan attack in 1947.

Dr Jitendra Singh said the refugees who were uprooted from Pakistan and had to leave their home and hearth to take shelter on the Indian side after the partition, have an exemplary history of struggle and resurgence after going through the trauma of partition and also losing many of their near and dear ones in the riots that followed.

After independence, he said, they contributed to every sphere of life and brought pride to the nation. What’s more, two of India’s Prime Ministers are erstwhile residents of West Pakistan while former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani hailed from Karachi, he noted.

Dr Jitendra Singh lamented that those refugees who chose to settle in Jammu & Kashmir were deprived of their basic rights of citizenship as well as other opportunities available to their counterparts living in other parts of India.

On the completion of 75 years of India’s independence, Dr Jitendra Singh said the country proved to the rest of the world its capacity and inherent strength to thrive as a democratic nation and is now entering into the most critical phase of 25 years, which Modi has described as ‘Amrit Mahakaal’.

Dr Jitendra Singh expressed the hope that the next quarter century would prove a golden chapter in the growth story of India and Jammu & Kashmir will have a major role to play.