In the week leading to the 2-year anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, NewsX is doing a 8-hour marathon on J&K Reintegration. Some key focus areas include:

  • Reintegration Plan
  • Fill The Seats Campaign
  • The Sikh Empire Era
  • Sharda Temple Corridor
  • The Chinese Threat
  • British Accountability
  • Identifying Leaders
  • The Balti Language

Jammu & Kashmir Assembly, before the abrogation of Article 370, had 24 seats earmarked for the territories under Pakistani occupation, since 1956, when J&K Constitution was enacted. These seats were never contested upon and always lied vacant. But this status quo must be abandoned if India’s stance on PoK has to be construed as serious and effective on the international level. 

 The new Jammu & Kashmir Assembly, after delimitation, must not only retain these reserved seats but should also add seats for representation of Gilgit Baltistan and allow these to be contested and voted upon by the refugee population from PoK. But for this process to be successful, the political leadership in India must first bring prominent PoK figures into mainstream politics so that they can gain acceptance and recognition among their community in India, and abroad.

 The population of PoK refugees in India is around 13 lakhs, so picking able leaders to amplify the voice of PoK, within and outside India, should not present itself as a challenge. Moreover, PoK should have representatives, much like other constituencies in India, in the Lok Sabha as well, to give a louder and more obvious signal of India’s stance, to the world, on PoK.

The elected representatives should also be sent on global tours where they can lobby for international support for India’s claim on PoK. The leaders should also be able to bring the world’s attention to the atrocities committed by the Pakistani regime in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan. Furthermore, provision for Jal Jeevan & PM Awaas Yojna In PoK in 2022 budget should be made.

The Indian government should also set up in-absentia district administrations for PoK districts and appoint District Magistrates and Collectors for the districts. The Judiciary should also have separate benches to deal with matters pertaining to PoK. The J&K High Court should have a separate bench for taking up civil and criminal matters from PoK residents. The court along with JKSHRC should take up suo motu cognizance of human rights abuse cases in PoK by Pakistani authorities.

Apart from the above-mentioned steps to integrate PoK with India, the Government of India should also begin accepting citizenship applications, from properly vetted, PoK residents living in exile, in foreign nations. And to give a further jolt to Pakistan’s claims on the illegally occupied PoK, and on the whole Kashmir, the Indian government should persuade friendly foreign nations to establish consulates in Srinagar and consequently identify the whole of Jammu & Kashmir, including PoK, as an undisputed part of India.