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A migrant camp with a difference

It is not like a migrant camp in Muthi or Mishriwalan, where only Kashmiri Pandits used to live after they left the Valley in 1990. But here the migrants are from all the communities and from many areas.

Struggling to get the recognition at par with the Kashmiri Pandit migrants, around 440 families living in this isolated area, not far from Jammu city, feel they are neglected by the government.

‘Forgotten area'

Located on the banks of the Tawi river, Belicharan was a ‘jungle' of dense bushes until a group of people from Doda region found their way to this area after a spate of killings and being threatened by militants. The first batch arrived in this “forgotten area” in 1996 and soon other ‘victims' started pouring in.

“We had no place to go after we faced the militant atrocities” said Rajinder Singh Chauhan, Chairman of the local committee. “We were not given special treatment like Kashmiri Pandits. But we do not hold any grudge as they too have suffered,” he told The Hindu.

“But we are also human beings and are left in similar circumstances. Only a few families from Doda are registered with the Relief Commission [for migrants],” said Manzoor Ahmad, president of the committee.

Intense shelling

Here the migrants are Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Interestingly, there are 36 families from Uri in Kashmir. They shifted here after intense shelling from across the Line of Control in late 90s. “We live in complete harmony and this is the best example of secularism. There are Muslims who have been targeted by militants,” said Abdul Hamid from Dawara Uri. Asked why they did not return as the situation has normalised in Uri, he said: “I don't want to go. I will die here.”

Hajra, a woman from Banihal, has a sad story to tell. Her husband Moulvi Khuda Bakhsh was killed by militants and she was tortured. “I am living here with my son. I cannot narrate what I have gone through,” she sobbed.

Even as the ‘migrants' have constructed small houses, they neither have any right over the land nor do they have access to basic amenities except for a primary school opened this year. “The Jammu Development Authority and police are harassing us off and on and threatening to throw us out. Where will we go?” asked a resident. “We need a hospital, proper road and sanitation,” he said.

All praise

The people are all praise for Minister for Revenue Raman Bhalla who, they said, was taking care of them. But a lot more needs to be done. “I am aware of their problems. But everyday they add more people to colony. That we will not allow. We have to clear some of the land for a lake and they are opposing it. But their other problems are genuine and I am looking into them,” Mr. Bhalla said.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 7:26:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-migrant-camp-with-a-difference/article2684900.ece

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