AS PROTESTS and strike were observed by large sections of the people in the Kashmir valley against the decision to grant domicile certificates to refugees from West Pakistan, both separatists and mainstream opposition parties took on the state government on Friday. Clashes were reported from Sopore town in north Kashmir after Friday prayers, and the police used tearsmoke shells and cane-charge to disperse protesters.
In Srinagar, Independent legislator Engineer Rashid began a 48-hour sit-in outside the Gupkar residence of CM Mehbooba Mufti, while opposition National Conference (NC) said granting the refugees “state subject rights is tantamount to diluting the law and leaving it meaningless”.
“The dilution of J&K’s State Subject Law is a long-cherished desire of the BJP, and it is clear that the PDP has agreed to help the BJP in this,” NC state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said.
J&K Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik was detained along with his supporters when he tried to take out a protest demonstration in Sarai Bala in Srinagar. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also led a protest in the old city soon after Friday prayers, and said that the same government that is killing people in the Valley is blessing the refugees.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Malik and Mirwaiz had called for a day-long strike and protests against the government’s decision.
Slamming state government spokesman Naeem Akhtar, NC spokesperson Mattu asked him to read the statement of BJP state president Sat Sharma, who had stated that the decision to issue ‘domicile certificates’ to West Pakistan refugees was the “first step” towards granting them full citizenship and property rights.
The PDP, Mattu said, should realise that its “alliance partner is using the refugee issue as a covert opportunity to dilute and circumvent the state subject laws of Jammu and Kashmir”.
MLA Rashid said if the Centre has a heart it can resettle the refugees from Pakistan in any other part of the country.