The release of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has once again turned the spotlight on the refugee problem in Jammu and Kashmir, with many representatives of displaced people seeking a one-time settlement in the State.Labha Ram Gandhi, president of the West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee, told The Hindu that abrogation of Article 35A, which defined State subject laws and granted special privileges in matters of property and jobs, was the shortest route to access the pending citizenship rights in India.Long fight“If Article 35A goes on August 6 [the day the Supreme Court will hear multiple petitions filed against it], we will get citizenship rights, including the right to vote for the Assembly. We are fighting for our rights since 1947. We are Indians and not Bangladeshis, who need to be thrown out. It’s because of the local governments, a puppet of Pakistan, we failed to get citizenship rights. This government [the Centre] will deliver us justice,” Mr. Gandhi said.The BJP in J&K has been campaigning for full citizenship rights for West Pakistan refugees.These refugees are mainly Hindus, with 80% of them belonging to the Scheduled Castes, who migrated during Partition from Sialkot to J&K. By an assessment, their population of these refugees is estimated at between 2.5 lakh and 3 lakh.Rajiv Chuni, president of SOS International, an NGO fighting for the cause of displaced citizens of erstwhile J&K who shifted into this part during the 1948, 1965 and 1971 wars, said the case of displaced population should be “looked through the humanitarian prism”.“I doubt the sincerity of purpose in Assam. It’s taking a Hindu-Muslim colour. In J&K, I am held back in a territory that is not mine. I am from Mirpur [in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] and wants the right to vote from there,” Mr. Chuni said.Independent MLA Engineer Rashid, while accusing the Centre of “dislodging Muslims in Assam”, said: “If the Centre wants foreigners to be identified and deported it must start with the West Pakistani refugees in J&K.”
While the family of Jhansi resident Pushpendra Yadav have alleged that he was killed in a staged encounter, the police version has come under further scrutiny after conflicting statements issued by two district police officers.According to the statement by Jhansi SSP Om Prakash Singh on the night of the incident, the Station House Officer of Moth, Dharmendra Singh Chauhan, was returning to Jhansi from Kanpur in his private car on October 5 after a two-day leave, when he received a call from a local resident, purportedly Pushpendra Yadav. The person on the other end of the phone asked Mr. Chauhan to meet him at an intersection, the SSP said. Mr. Chauhan was “alone” and in plainclothes, the SSP said, adding that as soon as the SHO stopped his car and rolled down the window to look around, the accused fired at him.The SHO’s description of the incident, however, does not tally with the SSP’s statement. Talking to the media from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from injuries allegedly suffered during the encounter, Mr. Chauhan said he had gone out from his police station to patrol and check duty on the night of the incident. He said he was accompanied by a constable, Saurabh, and both of them were in a private car. “At the Bamrauli intersection around 9 p.m., a person waved (at us) and I stopped the car. He came close and pulled out his country pistol and fired,” said Mr. Chauhan, not mentioning any phone call.When asked whether he was returning from his leave, as stated by the SSP, the SHO said he had returned from leave the same day and gone out for patrol. The SHO claimed the accused shot and fled with his mobile phone and vehicle.Meanwhile, amid questions over the authenticity of the encounter, the police released a list of crimes attributed to Pushpendra Yadav to establish his criminal record as an alleged mining mafia member. However, all the five cases listed by the police related to inter-personal disputes, village-level offences or prohibitory action to prevent law and order disturbances. All cases pertain to 2014 and 2015.The charges against Pushpendra Yadav included enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman, criminal intimidation, voluntarily causing hurt and verbal threats. The police also claimed that Pushpendra Yadav’s truck was fined twice in 2018 for illegal mining. It was served a fresh challan on September 29 and seized.Pushpendra Yadav’s body was cremated by police on October 7 night after his family refused to take his body till a murder case is lodged against the police officer who shot him. The family accused the police of cold-blooded murder. His brother, Rabindra Yadav, a CISF jawan, claimed Pushpendra Yadav did not have any criminal record and never owned any weapon.Pushpendra Yadav’s wife Shivangi on October 9 alleged that her husband was killed because he had threatened to expose the local SHO for demanding bribe from him in return for promising to free his seized truck. She said her husband had already paid the police ₹1.5 lakh but they were harassing him for more. Pushpendra Yadav had threatened to make the recordingss of their bribe dealing to go “viral”, she said. “If he was at fault, you could have summoned him or taken him to jail. The police had his phone number,” she said.Ms. Shivangi Yadav further said that if her husband had shot the SHO and escaped with his car, as claimed by police, he would have been shot in the back and not in the head. “They caught hold of him and killed him,” she alleged.Akhilesh demands high-level probeSamajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, after meeting the family of the deceased, said a probe monitored by a sitting High Court judge would bring out the facts, as he questioned the police version. “This is not an encounter. The police committed a murder,” Mr. Akhilesh Yadav said.“No one believes the police story. Nobody is satisfied with the story and sequence of events narrated by the Jhansi Police administration,” he said.The SP chief also demanded that a murder case be lodged against the SHO, as demanded by the family. “You can estimate how big the conspiracy is when all officials and the government come together to save the station officer,” Mr. Akhilesh told reporters in Jhansi.