Thursday, 27 February 2020

Let India Be Their Home

Updated: May 25, 2013 5:35 pm

The relentless persecution of Hindus in Pakistan has become a matter of great concern for India. Hounded by Islamic fundamentalists in cahoots with the administration, the hapless Hindus have no options but to take shelter in India. More than 600 Hindus have recently flocked to India and taken shelter at Bijwasan in Delhi to escape the atrocities at the hands of their perpetrators back home. Against this backdrop, the Government of India must force Pakistan and Bangladesh to implement the Nehru-Liaquat Accord, failing which we should take Pakistan and Bangladesh to task by severing all diplomatic, trade and other ties with them.

All the Hindus coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and other nations due to religious persecution must be given refugee status and then full Indian citizenship with all rights that any citizen of India has. Those who have sought visa extension should not be persecuted further by the authorities in India. Rather, they should be given BPL status so that they can at least survive. As of now these refuges are not allowed to open bank accounts, obtain driving licenses or start any business. They should also be given the rights to get education and earn livelihood freely. It is a travesty that such rights have already been given to the Tibetan refugees.

In fact these families must be rewarded by every Hindu as despite horrible atrocities in Pakistan, they have not given up their Hindu way of life. All the Hindus coming from Pakistan and Bangladesh must get the rightful compensation from Pakistan and Bangladesh for the lands, businesses and properties they had to leave behind due to genocidal brutalities there.

The Government of India should also push the case in UN Security Council to slap sanctions on Pakistan and Bangladesh for such atrocities. The UNHCR should recognise them as refugees and accord them all help. Today, there are 793 Indians in Pakistani jails, out of which 582 are fishermen. On the contrary, 112 Pakistani prisoners languish in Indian prisons. The Pakistanis refused to reveal the truth about Chamel Singh. And now they have allowed Sarabjit to be nearly killed in prison. Yet the Indian Government did nothing then and is doing nothing now apart from offering the token assurances.

Over the last 20 years, Sarabjit had written countless letters to his family alleging threats to his life urging them to seek the Indian Government’s intervention. The family in India has been fighting relentlessly but to no avail. The Indian Government conveniently chose to overlook the issue. On the contrary, human rights activists in Pakistan risked raising their voices and called Sarabjit’s case a mistake of justice. The case of a 15-year-old Indian boy disappearing eight years ago was recently discovered in a Pakistani prison, is but another example.

Rajnath Singh, the President of the BJP recently visited the Bijwasan Camp in Delhi where more than 480 refugees have taken shelter. He has asked the government to extend the visas of these people as going back would mean a certain death. Indian politicians who cry loudly for the ‘rights’ of minorities have no time to visit these people.

The refugees on their part say that they would rather serve time in Indian prisons than to return Pakistan. They say that Hindus are not safe in Pakistan. Women are abducted, raped and forced to convert. They can’t even perform funeral as the Muslims ask them to bury the dead.

There are around 10,000 Pakistani Hindus illegally overstaying in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh since July 2012 after their visas had expired. They had forwarded their application seeking permanent residence through the local authorities. However, the Centre is yet to take any decision in the case. The BJP is the only party that has taken the cudgels to fight for granting citizenship status to these migrants. The party constituted a three-member committee to take up their plight with the Central Government. The Committee has prepared a list of such migrants living in Punjab.

Last year a powerful group of British parliamentarians expressed shock on the state of affairs of the minorities in Pakistan. Human rights activists Jesbir Uppal had made a series of powerful presentations in front of two separate committees and had put forward cases of Indian POWs like Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia, Sarabjit Singh, Chamel Singh, and Sepoy Jaspal Singh. Hindus constituted 22 per cent of the total population of Pakistan in 1951. But today their share is down to less than two per cent. But if their persecution continues at the same scale and they continue to flee, Pakistan is sure to become a total Hindu less country very shortly. According to the 1998 Pakistan Census, there were around 24 lakh Hindus spread across 104 districts in the country.

The irony of the situation can be summed up by what Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the first governor general of Pakistan had said in his presidential address to the constituent assembly on the August 11, 1947: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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