West Pak refugees bear brunt of BJP infighting

West Pakistani refugees have been bearing the brunt of the infighting in the state unit of the BJP as a group within the party is apathetic towards the problems of the ‘state-less’ lot.
As nearly 1.5 lakh West Pakistani refugees, living in different parts of the Jammu region, are being deprived of participating in the panchayat, local urban bodies and Assembly elections, a group within the BJP was of the opinion that there was no reason to take a tough stand for these ‘non-voters’.
Highly placed sources said during the coalition coordination committee meeting on November 21, the issue of denying subsidised ration to these refugees were taken by the BJP representatives, but no other issues pertaining to them was taken.
“For West Pakistan refugees, BJP ministers are not going to confront with the PDP because they (ministers) are well aware that these displaced persons are eligible only for casting votes in the Lok Sabha elections,” a source said, adding, “Two Lok Sabha members of the BJP from the Jammu region are particular about solving the issues of these refugees, but they are not getting the required response from the state unit.”
For BJP’s Lok Sabha members, one-time solution of the problems of the West Pakistan refugees is must as this chunk is the ‘deciding factor’ in both Jammu-Poonch and Udhampur-Doda Lok Sabha constituencies.
In the Agenda of Alliance — the document for running government in J&K, both the PDP and the BJP had promised to “take measures for sustenance and livelihood of the West Pakistan refugees”, but nothing has been improved to date. Conditions of these refugees are same as were three years ago before the formation of this regime.
“Our patience is running out. The Centre is serious about solving our issues once for all, but those at the helm of affairs in the state are adopting a casual approach towards our issues,” regretted Labha Ram Gandhi, a leader of the West Pakistan refugees.
It is also widely alleged that the BJP leadership in J&K is dominated by the “upper caste” and a majority of these refugees are Dalits and OBCs, so caste prejudice is another factor of the apathetic approach of solving their problems.