LUCKNOW: Fleeing persecution and atrocities in the form of forced religious conversions and abduction of Sikh and Hindu girls so that they could be married against their will to Muslims, Pakistani Hindus, in surging numbers, have been crossing over into India.
Factor this. Over the last three months, as many as 2,604 Hindus crossed over through the Attari-Wagah border. Only 1,328 of these people, who arrived on 25-day tourist visas to visit shrines, returned to their homeland. The passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which holds up the promise of permanent residency to persecuted non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, prompted the remaining 1,276 to stay back.
A hundred more Pakistani Hindus crossed over in the first week of February in the quest of citizenship and many more are expected to follow in their footsteps. Sources at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) on the Attari border confirmed the surging numbers of Pakistani migrants, saying as many as 1,200 minority Hindus, the highest in the last three months, crossed over this January. Only a fraction of them, 200 to be precise, went back, sources said.
Last December, as many 870 Pakistani Hindus arrived from across the border, they said, adding that while 659 of them went back to their homeland, the rest didn’t. In November, 534 minority Hindus crossed over into India and only 378 of them returned, sources said. It is learned that the strength of a Jatha, group of minority Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan, has gone up from 50 to 200. Sources attributed the spike to the fact that unlike previously when the pilgrims didn’t have their kin in tow, the ones arriving now are accompanied by their family members.
“This is our country and it has taken us a lot of trouble to reach here. Abduction of our girls had become a routine affair in Pakistan, as the authorities did nothing about it. We lived in fear,” said a Pakistani migrant. Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, said he personally received four such families who fled religious persecution in Pakistan. He said he would meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah to request him to grant them Indian citizenship. He said they feared their daughters would be abducted and forced to convert.
Sikhs waiting for visas
As many as 20 Sikh families in Pakistan’s Peshawar are trying to obtain visas to cross over into India. Twenty of them took shelter at the Panja Sahib Gurdwara.
30,000 Pakistani Hindus arrived in India over the last few years. A large number of them are still in India either on Long-Term Visa (LTV) or are overstaying.
14,726 Pakistani Hindus got LTVs between 2011 and 2014.
187 Sikh and Pakistani Hindu families living in Jalandhas.
250+ Pakistani Hindu families are settled in Elenabad, Hobli, Haripura, Neemla and Mameran in Sirsa district of Haryana.