Refugee Sufferings: The Role of the Custodian, Civil Bureaucracy, and Litigation in the Punjab


  • Tahir Khan Dr Tahir Khan, Assistant Professor, University of South Asia, Lahore.


refugees, rehabilitation, custodian, bureaucratic violence, evacuee property, settlement commissioners


The study focuses on bureaucratic flaws in the post-partition 1947 rehabilitation of refugees in the province of Punjab. It discusses refugees’ evacuee property issues and the litigation they initiated in order to secure the property they believed they were entitled to. Many scholars have discussed refugee rehabilitation and settlement in the Punjab but they have generally neglected institutional manipulations and its repercussions on the third generation of refugees. The study explores why the rehabilitation process in the Punjab took so long and was excruciating experience for the refugees. The Federal government of Pakistan passed laws for establishing an administrative department to facilitate the claims of displaced persons. The portfolio of the Custodian commanded a key position in the department. The laws that should have addressed the grievances of refugees in the Punjab created obstacles for pursuit of property. Influential refugees got their desired allotments, whereas poor refugees were subject to lawsuits. For them, partition brought a never-ending slew of troubles that made their life even more difficult for than the migration from India to Pakistan. The research employs both primary and secondary source material.