Tuesday, January 4, 2011
400 Pak Hindus await Indian citizenship after fleeing from Pakistan fearing extortion and kidnapping by Taliban and Muslim fundamentalist
AMRITSAR: With the Centre agreeing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a couple of months ago, to grant citizenship to 120 Pakistani Hindus staying near Jalandhar for years, around 400 more such people placed in a similar situation here have intensified their demand for citizenship.
According to president of a local NGO, All India Hindu Shiv Sena, Surinder Kumar Billa, there were around 450 to 500 Pakistani Hindus settled in Amritsar who have been awaiting citizenship. He said most of them had fled from Pakistan fearing extortion and kidnapping by Taliban and Muslim fundamentalists.
Talking to TOI on Monday, Billa said his NGO had begun collecting papers of all Pak Hindus and would move court besides approaching human rights organization demanding citizenship for them so they could settle in peace at least.
Roop Chand, in late sixties, said he had left Peshawar in 1995, under the cover of darkness along with his wife, two sons and two daughters for India fearing kidnapping and extortion and his prime worry was to reach Amritsar safely. With fingers crossed he said, the family reached Lahore and boarded Samjhauta Express.
Chand said he had social freedom here. His daughters attend school without the fear of diktats of Muslim fundamentals and his sons don't have to get humiliated by sarcastic remarks by Muslim friends, but the family was still waiting to get Indian citizenship for a lifetime assurance.
Almost all Pak Hindus have similar stories to narrate. They have been staying here for past more than 18 years. A few came to settle down with their family members who had migrated earlier, a few came to earn good money and many out of fear. Earlier, hesitant to speak against the Taliban or militants fearing for the safety of around 40 remaining Hindu families in Peshawar, they finally broke silence to narrate their horrifying tale.
''There had been incidents of extortion and kidnapping with some Hindus of the area and I had two daughters, who could become their target, so I decided to leave Pakistan for good,'' said Roop Chand who was a sewadar at Dargah Sri Peer Rattan Nath Ji at Peshawar. But here he runs a small tea kiosk.
Another Pak Hindu, Shiv Kumar, said they were forced to embrace Islam so he decided to leave Pakistan. ''We can live in poverty, but can't go back to live in an environment of uncertainty,'' said another Pak Hindu, Bachan Devi.
''We will take up their cases with both human rights organizations and to the government so they could have a peaceful life in India,'' Billa said.
Read more: 400 Pak Hindus await Indian citizenship - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/400-Pak-Hindus-await-Indian-citizenship/articleshow/7213868.cms#ixzz1A7eof3DE