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PAKISTANI HINDU REFUGEES ON A PROTEST AT JANTAR MANTAR

Devika Mittal
A group of Pakistani Hindu Refugees are sitting on a protest at Jantar Mantar. They had started the protest yesterday and it will go on till tomorrow. The protest is being organized by a group called Seemant Lok Sangthan – Universal Just Action Society that has been working for the rights of Pakistani Hindu Refugees for a long time. The protest is to demand rights for the Pakistani Hindu Refugees for their “survival, protection and development”.
Today I along with three other persons– V Arun Kumar, Ghazanfar Abbas and Seema Chandra went to the protest to know about their issues. We spoke to the president of Seemant Lok Sangathan. Hindu Singh Sodhi, the president, was himself a Pakistani Hindu migrant who had migrated in 1970s. He told us that because of the increasing religious fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan, religious minorities have been subjected to unspeakable atrocities. There are cases of forceful conversions, killings, abductions and rapes. None of the guilty have ever been prosecuted for the same. Because of this, Pakistani Hindus are migrating to India for refuge. He told us that in 1971, there was an exodus resulting in the migration of about 90,000 Hindus in India. Hindus are coming in large numbers.
But even here, there is no relief for them. The intelligence is always after them. Because of their nationality, they are unable to get jobs and their mobility is restricted. They are not being given any refugee rights. He told us that the Indian Government does not have policies to deal with them and because of this, they are facing hardships. They are struggling for basic amenities. A majority of the migrants are farmers and daily wage workers. They are not getting help from any source. UNHCR has not even declared them as refugees. They are demanding amendments in the citizenship act, laws for their protection and help.
We feel that we must extend our support to them not because of their nationality or religion but on humanitarian grounds. The people who talk about Indo-Pak peace do often negate this tragic fact thinking that this will create contempt for Pakistan. There is also a tendency that when one talks about the plight of Pakistani Hindus, the counter is to talk about the treatment meted out to religious minorities in India. While there is no denial to the dismal reality of India, this tendency needs to go because this is not helping anyone. Infact, it is only doing much more damage.
There is a need to rise above these barriers of religion, caste and nationality and see each other as human beings. In this scenario, not just the Pakistan Government but even the Indian Government needs to be criticised for their actions which are opposed to humanity. They need to be criticized not because this is the case of Pakistani Hindus but of human beings.
If you are a media person, we appeal to you to kindly consider and support their issue. Contact Hindu Singh Jodha at 91-9414243331

About the author

Devika Mittal is a well-known social activist. She is is pursuing her M.Phil in Sociology from Delhi School of Economics. She is the convenor of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak friendship initiative.

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