SHUBHDA CHAUDHARY | 19 APRIL, 2016
NEW DELHI: The current government has dealt with the sensitive issue of Pakistani Hindu migrants in a clumsy manner. The elusive Indian citizenship is coming at a cost for these migrants. More than 100 families who had come to India in the past one year are now packing their bags or have already left. It is quite a disgrace for the current government which on one hand, promises to build an ‘Akhand Hindu Rashtra’ but on the other hand, is nonchalant about the serious and grave issues on ground. In the past, the government had been quite high-headed about the ‘Ghar Waapsi’ program which was an invitation to Pakistani Hindus who had converted to Islam. But those Hindu families who did stick with their religion are not feeling welcomed.
Dr. David Frawley rightly mentioned that in the entire geo-politics of South Asian segment, if there is one segment of minorities who have faced the worst of treacherous circumstances, it is the Pakistani Hindus. No human rights commission or media pundits have directed their attention towards this minority and the same trend is practiced by India, too. They have been oppressed, marginalized or converted, therefore reducing their number. They are often very poor and have to compromise on doing the worst kind of menial jobs for their survival. Very often, they face the worst kind of hatred and prejudice, are treated as ‘Kafirs’ and hence, find it very difficult to have a decent living.
This is one of the reasons why, in a major development, the Indian government is currently mulling over the prospect of simplifying the procedures aimed at granting Indian citizenship to minority Hindus who have migrated from Pakistan. The Home Ministry is also working on providing bank accounts, PAN Cards, Aadhaar cards and other facilities to these minorities who are currently under Long term visa in India.
Several Hindus have migrated from Pakistan due to the fear of persecution and religious discrimination. More than 1200 Hindus have migrated from Pakistan in the past five years and they stay in three camps primarily located in New Delhi. Along with the lack of education, the Pakistani Hindus complain that they always feared their neighbors and surprisingly, girls have been sexually molested at several occasions. It made it difficult for them to survive and lead a normal life, as the longevity of their survival became questionable.
Only 2% of Hindus comprise of the total population of Pakistan while Muslims amount to 14% in India. Since 2011, the Indian government has granted citizenship to 1,400 Pakistani Hindus. Though, few migrants are quite critical of the current BJP government as it has not been very supportive. No Hindu leader or politician visits these camps and the current batch of migrants feel ignored and invisible.
On the other hand, few Pakistani Hindus, after spending years in Gujarat are returning to Pakistan as they were denied the citizenship. Most of these families are Sindhis and Kutchi Gujaratis, who have failed to get a citizenship from India and their hopes, severely jeopardized, create an uncertain future for them.
The main question here is, would the BJP government act instantly and stops these Pakistani Hindus to return to Pakistan and give them the citizenship, without further delaying it? Or would it just carry on harping the Hindutva Politics but do nothing concrete that can be materialized by saving the lives of hundreds of families? Unfortunately, as time is running by, it the immediate demand of these families to be embraced, legally, so that they do not find their ideas of ‘Ghar Wapsi’ to India a mere illusion.
(The writer is a doctoral student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)