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Refugee leader Chuni to contest from Jammu-Poonch LS constituency


Refugee leader Chuni to contest from Jammu-Poonch LS constituency

Last Updated on : 19 Mar,2019 | Source : Universal News Timeline

Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir refugee leader Rajiv Chuni has announced that he would contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Jammu-Poonch parliamentary seat so that he can take up the issues of refugees who feel let down by all political parties.
In an interview with The Tribune, Chuni claimed that there were nearly 5 lakh refugee voters in the Jammu region who could tilt the balance. He is confident that en bloc voting by the refugees would elect him to the Lok Sabha, where he would work to solve the problems of the people uprooted from their homes during the tribal invasion of J&K in 1947-48.

The refugees have come from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The successive Central and state governments have not done much for them.
“We have given a chance to every political party. Last time, the BJP had assured us that it would give us our due share and rehabilitate us on a permanent basis. It had also promised an all-time settlement amount to us, but nothing happened. We have been left high and dry. The BJP neither aired out grievances in Parliament nor made them known to the Prime Minister,” Chuni said.

“This time, the refugees insisted that I contest the election. We want to show our strength to all political parties, which have always played vote-bank politics with us,” he said.

Chuni and his organisation, SOS International, along with West Pakistan refugees had campaigned for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections for both Jammu-Poonch and Kathua-Udhampur seats.

“The PM has to address thousands of issues, but it is the duty of the MP to convey our issues to him. Ironically, Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh, who was elected by us, remained silent on our issues,” Chuni said.

“We do not have much money and power to campaign in such a large constituency. But my organisation has done a lot for refugees. Our 30 years of social service will help me in my campaign,” he said. He said he had all along been holding rallies and protests to seek relief for the refugees.

Chuni said the refugees had not decided to contest from the Kathua-Udhampur seat, but would campaign against the BJP and support the candidate who would talk in favour of the refugees.

There are 36,819 families of PoK refugees in the Jammu region. Of them 26,319 families had come in 1947 and 10,500 families had come in 1965 and 1971. They have been demanding a rehabilitation package for the past 70 years.

Even after the recommendations of the state Cabinet in October 2014 for Rs 9,096 crore, reservation for them in government, professional and technical college and 8,500 jobs, the Centre had announced only Rs 2,000 crore for them on November 7, 2015.

The PoK refugees are demanding Rs 25 lakh per family and benefits on the pattern of the Kashmiri Pandit migrants, eight seats for PoK refugees in the Legislative Assembly, permission to visit religious places in PoK and return of the cash deposited at Jammu and Kashmir Bank at Mirpur with interest.

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