It was recently reported that 14 members of Pakistan’s Hindu community have returned from India after six months’ stay. Those who returned said that their dreams of better economic prospects in the neighbouring country had been shattered and it was much better at home. Speaking to the media at the Wagah border, Kanhaya Lal and Nanak Ram, the latter a resident of Ghotki, accompanied by eight members of his family, said they went to India in the hope that they would get better economic prospects but that was not so and they suffered great hardships.
They said the Indian government’s criteria for refugee recognition was a travesty and they had to face massive difficulties during their stay. Nanak Ram admitted he was deceived by a visa agent who brought him to India for pilgrimage but then left him stranded in a refugee camp. He was not allowed to visit Haridwar, rather moved to New Delhi along with other 11 Yatrees.
The case of Kanhaya Lal and Nanak Ram is not one of its kind. Many Hindu families that had gone to India for better economic prospects and on account of similar religio-cultural identity are now returning home.
These people had visited India for mostly religious purposes but stayed back, hoping that the Indian government would provide them with some kind of economic prospects. But the Hindu families that visited India for pilgrimage were dumped in refugee camps where there were no basic amenities like washrooms, electricity, etc. They were living in miserable conditions and had to start their lives from the scratch once again. Their ordeals have opened the eyes of those who stayed at home.
India recently passed a highly controversial law allowing Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to apply for fast-track citizenship. According to Raja Asar Manglani, patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Pakistan’s Hindu community has unanimously rejected this bill, which is tantamount to dividing India on communal lines. He said this was a unanimous message from Pakistan’s entire Hindu community to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “A true Hindu will never support this legislation,” he said, adding that the law had violated India’s own constitution.
In yet another incident recently, 11 members of a Pakistani Hindu family were murdered in India. The family was found to have been poisoned and killed with only one member surviving, who was not home that night.
The family had migrated to India in 2015 and stayed in a detention center for over five years. The deaths in Jodhpur state of India were protested by a large number of Hindus from across the country who staged a sit-in in front of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. Members of the Hindu community, led by Member National Assembly (MNA) and Patron-in-Chief Pakistan Hindu Council Dr Ramesh Kumar, reached the federal capital from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and various other parts of the country in a caravan and protested against the killings of Pakistani Hindus in India. Demanding a transparent inquiry into the tragic incident from the Indian government, the participants of the sit-in chanted slogans against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government. They also called upon the international community to provide them justice. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ramesh Kumar said India must immediately provide post mortem report and copy of First Information Report (FIR) of the incident to Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
Hindus constitute Pakistan’s major non-Muslim minority, estimated at between two percent of the population. They include members of parliament, a former chief justice and prominent names in the arts.
The Indian government deceives innocent Pakistani Hindus on account of better economic prospects, lures them with promises of a brighter future but dumps them in refugee camps. Such cases are then used by the Modi Sarkar to malign Pakistan by exploiting the minorities’ issue. However, Pakistan, as compared to India, remains a much safer place to coexist and progress for minorities. It seeks to become a modern, progressive, democratic, prosperous, non-discriminatory, pro-people peaceful society for all, including the minorities.
In a landmark speech on religious freedom, Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah said in August 1947: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in the state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
Last year, the country won global praise and positive attention when it opened the Sikh temple at Kartarpur to pilgrims from India.