The International Observatory on Statelessness


Kashmiris born in India are entitled to the same rights as citizens but India has consistently shown preferential treatment to certain groups, and not others. For example, even though some 20,000 Hindu families from Pakistan who migrated to the Indian side after the partition riots are still stateless and live in appalling camps; by contrast, Punjabi Muslims, originally from Pakistan, but who have been living in Kashmir for more than 60 years, have been formally denied citizenship.
The situation is further complicated by the geography of Kashmir and the history of conflict in the region. India reportedly amended its Citizenship Act of 1955 and Citizen Rule of 1965 authorizing the district magistrate of Jaisalmer to grant Indian citizenship to Pakistanis who have been living in the border district for the last five years. This effort has been aimed at some of the Kashmiri Pandits who represented approximately 12 percent of the population in the Valley in 1947 but since 1989 have been expelled (as many as 300,000 families have been forced out). In 2003, the Ministry of Home Affairs requested states to provide identity cards to displaced Kashmiri Pandits with the aim of regularising the situation of at least 50,000 displaced persons, who were not registered as "migrants" when they left the Kashmir Valley after 1990.

For Punjabi refugees, however, there has been no change to their situation. Over 100,000 Punjabi refugees who fled to Jammu and Kashmir from neighbouring Sialkot district of Punjab province (now in Pakistan) in 1947 and their descendents have been denied the right to citizenship. Although their exclusion provoked large demonstrations in 2007, the State Assembly of the Jammu and Kashmir nonetheless rejected a bill in May 2007 seeking to grant citizenship and other rights for the refugees of West Pakistan in the Jammu and Kashmir State.