SOURCE: Prasar Bharati
n the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, for the first time in history, West Pakistani Refugees and Valmikis can now vote and contest elections as they were not entitled to the same since 1947. AIR Jammu Correspondent reports that abrogation of Article 370 and new domicile laws have empowered the WPRs and Valmikis for voting right and contesting elections in the Union Territory.
Pertinently, the west Pakistan refugees were settled mainly in border areas of Jammu and were not considered as permanent citizens. About 5764 Hindu and Sikh families popularly known as West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) entered India in 1947 and settled down in various parts of Jammu.
Presently, the number of WPRs has increased to over 20 thousand families or 4 lakh persons. After the scraping of article 370, they are allowed to purchase land and apply for jobs in J&K besides they can also contest elections. Apart from WPRs, the Valmikis (Dalits) who were brought to J&K in 1975 from Punjab by the then state government and given permanent resident certificates had to abide by the condition that their future generations could stay only in J&K if they continue to be scavengers and Safai Karamcharis. With the abrogation of Article 370, now the Valmikis can also apply for any jobs, purchase land, vote, contest elections besides they can now change the occupation being carried out by their forefathers. At present, around 10 thousand people belong to this community are in J&K.