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Islam and Sectarianism (09 Apr 2013 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Plight of Pak Hindus: How They Are Struggling For Indian Citizenship

 

 

By Danish Raza

Apr 9, 2013

Fifteen year old Radha crossed the India-Pakistan border on the Thar Express in March, hoping for a new life. Since then, she’s lost a child — her third — because of poor medical care and nutrition. She has no home, no income and, starting Monday morning, no country.

Part of a group of 480 Hindu refugees from Pakistan’s troubled Sindh province, Radha arrived on a tourist visa obtained by saying she wished to attend the Maha Kumbh. She’s now staying in a ramshackle building in Bijwasan, on the fringes of Delhi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Nahar Singh with a Pakistani Hindu immigrant in the refugee camp in Bijwasan, South West Delhi. Danish Raza/Firstpost

Nahar Singh, superintendent of Central Excise and Customs at Delhi airport, and two years short of retirement, has emerged as something of a god for hundreds of Sindhi refugees who’ve been crossing the border in recent years. In November, 2011, Singh says, he first came across a group of 145 Sindhi refugees who were then living in a makeshift camp in North Delhi. He had his two-storey building, then rented out for Rs 70,000 a month, vacated to make room for them.

Singh says he has approached the Foreign Regional Registration Office, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Delhi High Court to get the refugees Indian nationality — but all in vain.

After staying put in Singh’s property for around six months, adults slowly joined the sea of immigrants to flock to New Delhi every day. However, they also passed on Singh’s contacts to fellow Hindus in Pakistan who were desperate to relocate. The group of 480 who arrived on the Thar Express in March made their way to New Delhi, and made their home in his building. More, Singh says, are certain to follow, because attacks on religious minorities are continuing unabated.

Until the time the refugees settle in, Singh says, he’ll take care of their meals — and, if need be, expenses. Hindu groups have pitched in, but resources are clearly scarce.

For the families in Singh’s shelter, there is no going back to Pakistan. “I will prefer dying here in Hindustan than living in Pakistan,” says 38 year old Seeta Ram, who is here with 17 members of his extended family. “For us, there is no dignified life in Pakistan. We live at the mercy of Muslims. We cannot openly celebrate our festivals. We cannot cheer for the Indian cricket team”. In case of a clash between two communities, Ram says, he doesn’t expect fair trial. “Their police, their courts,” he says.

Ram’s daughter Karma Bai says her husband has been cursing her ever since they arrived in India. “While he is here with me, his own family is in Pakistan. Please see if you can do anything to get them here,” says the woman, pointing to kids in a family album.

Sindh’s Hindus are largely landless Dalit labourers, hard hit by both religious persecution as well as their low social status and economic deprivation.

For the generation before Seeta Ram, things were not this bad in Pakistan. “When were young, there were no such issues like forcible conversion of Hindu girls to Islam or rape or assaults on Hindu families. If life was not good, it was not bad either. But it all changed after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in India. To take revenge, Muslims in Pakistan demolished temples. We were traumatised,” says the grandmother in one of these families.

In recent years, there have been a string of attacks on Hindus — most famously, the alleged forcible conversion and kidnapping of Rinkle Kumari, which sparked global outrage.

Many among the refugees use angry language, attacking what they see as a Hindu country for denying them citizenship. “I am a Hindu”, says 35-year-old Vasant Das. This is Hindustan. How can I be living here illegally? The government of the biggest democracy in the world cannot take care of 480 people? And anyways, we never asked for partition. Muslims demanded it. So, ideally, Indian Muslims should shift to Pakistan”.

For the government, though, the issues are more complex. Refugees from persecution in India’s near-neighbourhood — like Sikhs from Afghanistan, Tamils from Sri Lanka, or even some Ahmadis from Pakistan — don’t have a right to citizenship, because India fears a tidal wave of claimants. Even though India has often been lauded for its treatment of refugees, it doesn’t have a law that allows them to claim entitlements and documentation.

Delhi authorities have told FirstPost they will ensure the refugees receive visa extensions — but can’t hold out the hope of documents guaranteeing them long term stay. “There are thousands of cases like these”, a senior Home Ministry official says. “Frankly, we know they’ll buy identity documents, and begin a life as Indians. But the law is the law, and it’s for politicians to change, not us”.

Nahar Singh believes they will meet the fate of the previous 146 immigrants. “Government of India neither gave them nationality, nor did it ask them to leave for Pakistan. They are citizens of nowhere,” he says.

Source: http://www.firstpost.com/india/plight-of-pak-hindus-how-they-are-struggling-for-indian-citizenship-691336.html?utm_source=mail&utm_medium=newsletter

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-sectarianism/danish-raza/plight-of-pak-hindus--how-they-are-struggling-for-indian-citizenship/d/11076

 


TOTAL COMMENTS:-   7
  • needy is any person who is dissatisfied with the opportunities his own country has to offer. Every needy person cannot go around demanding immigration into another country, but a person being persecuted can. I was offering my self as an example of how ridiculous an argument it would be to say that I was needy and wanted to move to better climes.

    But please ignore this. It is not worth your while.

    By secular logic - 4/12/2013 12:26:31 AM
  • 80 crore Hindus live in India and India accomodates them, without persecuting them, yet you feel you are needy and wish to settle abroad. nothing wrong, for bangladeshis, India seem a better breeding ground.
    By sadaf - 4/11/2013 11:05:00 PM
  • "needy" and "persecuted" are two different things. Nobody is persecuting Muslims of Bangladesh for their religious beliefs. There are needy people everywhere. I am also needy, will some nice western country please give me asylum?
    By secular logic - 4/11/2013 8:23:10 PM
  • well who stops you from legalising 'bangladeshis' who are needy? perhaps communal politics here.
    By sadaf - 4/11/2013 3:01:36 AM
  • It is an issue of human rights.

    If indeed they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, they have a right to seek asylum in other countries of the world, not just in India. Seeking asylum from religious, political and racial persecution is standard global practice, nothing exclusive about it. They will come to India because India is the closest neighbour and because of the religious umbilical cord. They are not going to go to Afghanistan, are they? Should we say, yes, we know you are being forced to convert, your women are being abducted, your businessmen are being threatened and the Pak administration won't move a finger to help you, but it is your fate. Just stay there and die....

    Whether India can accommodate them or not is another matter. I think they should be. We take in and regularise so many Bangladeshi illegal migrants. Why close doors to legal and really needy ones?

    By secular logic - 4/11/2013 1:58:32 AM
  • when rohingyas cannot be accepted by bangladesh (an islamic democracy), or pakistan (an islamic country), or indonesia (the world's largest muslim nation) why should india (a secular democracy) be expected to accept pakistani hindus? india is supposedly transparent to religion. not only that it has the unique distinction of being the most conquered nation that simply explains away conquest as the "accommodating" spirit of hinduism. when we have an accommodating civilization posed against a conquering civilization, it is not very difficult to predict out comes.
    so why don't we all blame nepal instead as it is supposedly a "hindu" nation/kingdom (they are having a hard time deciding which) for not granting citizenship to pakistani hindus?
    if saudi arabia cannot be islamic enough to accept rohingyas, why do secular nations have to bear the burden of arabian un-islamicity?
    By hats off! - 4/10/2013 8:23:09 AM
  • once we start giving refuge to these refugees, progeny of 1947 bhagodes too may start seeking refuge here. our heart may be big, but our minds are narrow. we cannot give refuge to one time bhagodeys progeny. it will cause severe social and political crisis here. Hindus from Pakistan may be accomodated and addition will hardly burden Indian Muslims more than they already bear. however, if progeny of non-bhagodey, but Muslims nontheless, from Pakistan seek refuge, it will be difficult to justify denial to them. we aren't a theocratic nation like Pakistan. India isn't a Hindu nation. am talking about punjabis of Pakistan, majority of whom are Muslims and progeny of non-bhagodeys. their forefathers were settled there before 1947. yes we can punish their grand and great grand children, for fore fathers voting in favour of creation of Pakistan. but logistically, it would be difficult to find who voted for and who voted against. even if general thumb rule is applied to deny them, refuge, it would be difficult to justify why someone else should be punished for someone's fault or choice as it seemed them. 
    By sadaf - 4/10/2013 8:05:41 AM

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