Rs. 5.5 lakh for each PoK refugee

Relief package for Hindu migrants was announced by Prime Minister last year

January 02, 2017 01:01 am | Updated 01:01 am IST - New Delhi:

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir refugees shout slogans during a protest. File

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir refugees shout slogans during a protest. File

The Centre will deposit Rs. 2,000 crore into the bank accounts of 36,000 Hindu refugees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), a senior Home Ministry official said on Sunday.

The compensation package for the Hindu refugees was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, and it got the clearance from the Union Cabinet in December. These refugees migrated to Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, 1965 and 1971.

Currently, violent protests have erupted in the Valley against domicile certificates being issued by the State government to 19,000 west Pakistan refugees, mostly Hindus, who came to India after Partition, but are yet to be given any voting rights or financial package.

“Each PoK refugee would get Rs. 5.5 lakh in his or her bank account, and the Centre will bear the cost,” the official said.

Resettlement fund

The west Pakistan refugees have been demanding a similar package, but the previous Omar Abdullah government had vehemently opposed the move. However, packages for PoK refugees were cleared by the Union Cabinet on November 30 and the “resettlement fund” will be disbursed once the figures and data of refugees are compiled.

The Home Ministry has sought bank account details of all the families from the State government as it intends to transfer the money directly into their accounts instead of giving it to the State government.

“Once we get the details of the bank accounts, we will release the funds in batches. This is for the first time that the Centre has allocated Rs.2,000 crore for providing relief instead of setting up a State-Centre committee first to examine their demands, the official further explained.

“This will largely cover PoK and Chhamb refugees,” said an official, adding that the move has also caused discontent among the refugees of West Pakistan who are yet to get the government’s attention. The Mehbooba Mufti government has agreed to sanction Rs. 1.2 crore in the Rs. 2,000-crore package as the amount pledged by the Centre fell short by a few hundred rupees per person.

“Since the PM has announced a package of Rs. 2,000 crore, we asked the State government to chip in as the benefit for each family was a little less than the Rs.5 lakh,” said an official.

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