In a major decision, the Centre is set to grant land ownership rights to West Pakistan refugees (WPR) in Jammu and Kashmir.

After the abrogation of Article 370, the Centre has initiated an exercise through which the ownership rights will be granted to the WPRs over lands measuring 46,666 Kanals that were allotted to them before the abrogation of Article 370.

Officials said these lands are in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and were allotted to the WPRs in 1954 after they migrated to the Indian side of the International Border.

“The Union Home Ministry officials have discussed the matter with the revenue department officials of J&K who have initiated the exercise,” official sources said.

When J&K had special status under Article 370 and 34A, the West Pakistan refugees could neither own land nor apply for government jobs as they were not state subjects of J&K.

After coming to power in the Centre, the BJP government had given Rs 5.5 lakh per family as compensation to West Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) refugees.

After Article 370 was scrapped, West Pakistan Refugees, POJK refugees, Gorkhas and Valmikis have been declared as domiciles of J&K.

The lands on which the ownership rights will be granted to these refugees exist in Akhnoor, R.S. Pura, Bishnah in Jammu district, in parts of Samba district and Hiranagar district.