Srinagar: It is minus 4.5 degrees in Srinagar but that did not seem to deter independent legislator Engineer Rashid as he spent the whole night yesterday under the open sky outside Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's residence in Srinagar.
The maverick legislator was protesting the government's controversial move to issue domicile certificates to refugees from West Pakistan who are settled in Jammu and Kashmir for more than six decades.
Rashid had announced a 48-hour long sit-in outside Ms Mufti's residence, on the banks of Dal Lake.
The portions of the lake are frozen due to extreme cold conditions in Kashmir. But as he completed 24 hours of sit-in showing no signs of moving out, police forcibly removed him and took him to Ram Mushibagh Police Station.
Engineer and his supporters tried to pitch a tent to protect themselves from the cold but chief minister's security disallowed that.
The opposition parties and separatist groups have vowed they would oppose government's move to hand out the domicile certificates since they believe it compromises constitutional status of the state that bars residency and voting rights to non-state subjects.
The opposition allege that the move is the first step to granting full citizenship rights to refugees after BJP state president Sat Pal Sharma indicated that gradually the West Pakistan refugees would be integrated in the state as is the case with refugees in other states. The statement was later modified by BJP and PDP.
The government has clarified that they are only issuing identity certificates to the refugees.
Around 20,000 families from West Pakistan have settled in Jammu and Kashmir and their stay has always remained a contentious issue in the state.
While the government has already given citizenship rights to refugees from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Chamb, the major regional parties have always opposed to giving citizenship rights to West Pakistan refugees.