Hindrise - Pakistani Hindu Refugees in India and Struggle for Hindu Existence
Many of you may not be aware that we have refugees from Pakistan in our country too, along with Tibetan refugees. They are Hindus and Sikhs, who have been filtering into our cities, unable to bear the treatment meted out to them in their countries of settlement. In fact, there are nearly 400 refugee settlements scattered across Indian cities, with many of them being in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Apart from granting them makeshift housing, food, etc, the Indian Government is striving to make them legitimate citizens of India. By 2015, around 4,300 such refugees had received citizenship.
The Minority Groups in Pakistan
According to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, religious apartheid is acceptable. Hindus are unequal citizens in this country, and therefore, no one objects to their humiliation or the differential treatment meted out to them. The Constitution of Pakistan is inclined in favour of followers of Islam, which is a State Religion. Even the laws of the land are keen to put down this minority in the name of religion. The result is that Pakistan has witnessed the birth of several fringe factions over the years, who exhibit their love for religious fanaticism and extremism by torturing minority groups, such as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shia Muslims and Ahmadiyas.
The torture takes several forms. For instance, there has been systematic desecration or destruction of Hindu temples, ever since the Partition took place. Sometimes, the temples have simply been converted into offices for governmental use. Then again, whenever something happens in India, the repercussions show up in our neighbouring country. In 1992, when there were communal riots in India, Pakistan responded by destroying 100s of Hindu temples on its land. The riots were in another country, and the native Hindus of Pakistan had no role to play in them at all. Regardless, the motto of Pakistani extremists seems to be, “Hurt a Muslim anywhere, and we will hurt the Hindus and Sikhs settled here”.
According to statistical data, there are over two million Hindus in Pakistan. If they desire to survive in peace, they must pay a kind of ransom to local leaders and extortionists. Only then, will they receive physical security. Then again, there have been numerous cases of illegal encroachments on lands possessed by Hindus. There have been cases too, of people barging into the homes of minorities and running away with their possessions. Any protests led to severe beatings. Often, Hindu girls suffer molestation, or even abduction for ransoms. Sometimes, minors are forced to marry their Muslim captors. In fact, womenfolk receive no respect, just abuse.
As if this were not enough, arrests on false pretexts are a common sight too. The accusations relate to alleged blasphemies of their Holy Prophet Mohammad. Since non-Muslims cannot represent them in court, the sentences handed out tend to be quite severe.
The educational scenario is no better. In some places, the medium of education was only Punjabi or Sindhi. All students must read the Quran compulsorily, regardless of their respective Faiths. All must understand that Pakistan is synonymous with Islam and Muslims alone. Towards this end, they must understand and respect the ideology of Pakistan, wherein subtle hatred against Hindus and India must become an integral part of each Pakistani’s personality. Then again, every student must take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.
With regard to jobs, no Hindu goes beyond the post of a clerk in any establishment. In case, this individual desires to launch a business, it is compulsory to invite a Muslim to be a silent partner.
Above all, there is a question about the population of Hindus in Pakistan, which still remains unanswered. For instance, this population numbered between 15% and 24% in 1947. By 1998, the population reduced to a mere 1.60%. No one knows where the majority of the Hindu population has disappeared! Although the majority of refugees refuse to discuss the problems they face/faced in Pakistan, openly, a media advisor to Pakistan’s President from 2008 until 2012, Farhanaz Ispahani alludes to the long-standing miseries faced by minorities, in her book. She declares that several regimes were responsible for the “drip-drip genocide”, wherein large numbers of the populace simply disappeared.
What the Refugees Want
One of the most populated and popular Pakistani Hindu refugee camps is located close to the Mainu Ka Tilla Gurdwara in Delhi. Over 200 families are housed in shanties created from reeds and bamboo poles, which are temporary shelters. They have electricity and water connections. It is commendable that the Kejriwal Government (2015) went out of its way to provide toilet facilities, drinking water and an extra electric generator to provide lighting at night. However, mosquitoes are the bane of the camp, since the River Yamuna is just around the corner.Regardless, the refugees are grateful to be in India, for they feel that this is home. One refugee wondered why Pakistan treated Hindus like aliens, whereas in India, Muslims received respect, access to equal opportunities and even become representatives of the people in Parliament.
Although things are not very rosy for these refugees currently, they are happy that the Ministry of Home Affairs is on their side. For now, these refugees have been granted long-term visas. However, granting citizenship would mean supplying them with PAN cards, Aadhar cards, bank accounts, citizenship rights, etc. Although India is kind enough to grant asylum to refugees, it is imperative that it have a comprehensive refugee policy in hand too. This should make things easier for all concerned, since every refugee yearns to acquire permanent Indian nationality.
The Role of Hindrise
Team members and volunteers from our organisation intend to interact face-to-face with these Pakistani refugees, in order to comprehend their needs and wants.
Then again, it would be good to equip them with certain skills, such that they are able to earn a livelihood and support their respective families.
Above all, experienced and knowledgeable members from Hindrise will approach the Ministry of Home Affairs, to offer assistance in policies and procedures relating to granting of Indian citizenship.