The wounds are still fresh
MIRPUR Day is the most sacred day for Mirpuris, their descendants and for all those who have some links with Mirpur and its suburbs. The memories of Mirpur which are fresh in the minds of its natives, still remind them of the good old days.
Mirpur was captured by Pakistan on November 25, 1947. The foremost district of Jammu region, it was second to none in area, population, agricultural, produce and prosperity in general, but it suffered many reverses at the hands of the enemy. Pakistan managed to annex about 90 per cent of the territory of this zone, which is under its illegal occupation to this day.
Although the state had acceded to India almost a month before and despite the assurances that had been constantly pouring in from the Capital that ample forces were being despatched, no army was sent to save it from destruction. The lose of human life suffered by this district cannot be estimated.
The end of the ill-fated town itself was still worse. It was pounded, shelled, blasted and set ablaze and ultimately submerged into Mangala dam, the premier embankment project of Pakistan.
The government has been treating these persons shabbily since day one. Each uprooted family was given a paltry sum of Rs 3500 as adhoc grant provided the total income of all its members was less than Rs 150 p.m. The linking of the relief amount to income made a mockery of the rehabilitation exercise. Cumulation of the earnings of the entire family made many of the most deserving refugees ineligible for such a dole.
Besides reducing the number of genuine claimants, the Mirpur Association is of the opinion that the government has tried to isolate J&K refugees from the rest living in other parts of the country. How is it that the refugees from East Bengal and West Punjab were not subjected to this treatment.
The new guidelines are more stringent and harsh. Those who stayed in camps will also be ineligible. This lone clause is enough to bring down the number of beneficiaries to a microscopic minority.
According to the new rules the income, however, has been raised to Rs 300 and the government wants to put off the claimants after paying Rs 25000 as full and final payment of their claims. They will have to give an undertaking that there will be no further claims for anything whatsoever.
The offer, besides being extremely low, is full of ifs and buts and as such is bound to be rejected by the associations that have been pursuing the matter for a long time. For all intents and purposes, it is futile to knock at the doors of the government now.
My father, an ex-conservator of forest, remained in Pakistani captivity and died in prison. He was graduate and took his degree one or two years after the Panjab University was founded. My mother who was also arrested and put behind bars died of shock soon after. My married sister, a teacher, was killed along with her husband and her baby, while trying to save her life soon after the town was captured. My mother-in-law who stood like a rock to prevent the abduction of her granddaughter was mercilessly dragged and killed by a gunshot. Her granddaughter who was only 6-7 years old was taken away by invaders and her fate is unknown till today. My younger brother remained captive upto the end and was evacuated along with other prisoners by Red Cross and was lodged in a refugee camp at Kurukshetra. There is a long list of relatives, friends, students and loved ones who suffered imprisonment or were done to death or who died of hunger or intense cold.
I made frantic efforts to receive the adhoc grant of Rs 3500 that the government was disbursing to the survivors who had come out of the jaws of death. I visited Jammu, Patiala and Delhi again and again in connection with my claim and received a big "no" through a letter.
Mine is not a solitary case, there are a number of other aggrieved, afflicted, woeful and wronged people.
Mine is just an example to illustrate
the pitiable state of J&K refugees of 1947.