(Image courtesy: Indiaonline.in)
Introduction: In 1947, Indian subcontinent saw birth of Pakistan, the eastern part of this country later became Bangladesh in 1971. Since 1947, Pakistan and Bangladesh saw the rise of radical Islamisation on their lands and growing intolerance in the society. Over the years, Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and Bangladesh have consistently faced religious persecution, discrimination and violence.
Objective: Facilitating minority groups (Hindus and Sikhs) in Pakistan and Bangladesh to seek asylum/refuge and citizenship in India and requesting governments, both at central and state level, to ensure their humane treatment when they crossover. We also request governments and other international organizations to kindly provide counters where they could approach an authorized person directly in the hour of need as several refugees complain of government channels being inaccessible. It is paramount to assure them of hospitable living conditions and a network that could help them in procuring citizenship of India. Also, the cases of violation of their basic human rights in their deserted country must also be effectively taken up by governmental channels at national and global platform to ensure justice, compensation and healing of these migrants.
Current Scenario: At the time of independence, Hindus formed 22% ofcombined population in West & East Pakistan, however, today their numbers have declined due to systematic ethnic cleansing backed by state to please radical majority. Hindus are now below 2% of total Pakistani population from 20% in 1947 and less than 9% of Bangladesh population from 25% in 1947. As of 2006, there were only 20,000 Sikhs left in Pakistan. The partisanship towards Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and Hindus in Bangladesh is quite evident in the functioning of state machinery and judiciary. It has become a common norm to attack Hindu temples, business establishments and residential colonies in Pakistan and Bangladesh, besides that arson, robbery, kidnapping and forceful conversion have become a common sight for Hindus in both of these countries. In cases of Rinkle Kumari and Pooja Gupta even the judiciary and other organisations did fence sitting and allowed the girls to suffer at the hands of fundamentalists. Recently, five school kids from Hindu community were kidnapped by radical elements in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The kids were released after three weeks. Hindus have also been deprived the rights to own land and made to work as slaves for big landlords; some of the enslaved Hindus are forced to work on the farmlands owned by their ancestors by politically affiliated Pakistani strongmen. Besides that, till date Hindus are waiting for Hindu Marriage Act to come into effect in Pakistan.
Even during the severe drought in Sindh’s Tharparkar area 2013, Pak authorities decided to dispatch relief material and other facilities quite late. This resulted in numerous people starving to death, including kids, apparently most of the victims happened to be Hindus and authorities resorted to biased approach due to region housing large numbers of Hindus. As many as 139 infants died owing to the natural calamity and a deliberate delay in sending relief material to the victims, however, in State Assembly Sindh Chief Minister claimed that the deaths were due to deliveries and maternal care that took place in the absence of doctors. Out of 458 temples in 1947, only 32 are left in Pakistan as of today and many Hindu temples and lives are threatened due to hardliners and blasphemy laws. Hindus are falsely framed under blasphemy law and even during Holi celebrations several Hindu youths were arrested under false claims of blasphemy. Sikhs have also suffered in Pakistan owing to state’s rigidity about non-Muslims’ social and religious rights. After targetted attack resulted in the death of Pramjeet Singh recently, Sikhs’ religious place and sacred book “Guru Granth Sahib” were vandalised in Sindh province by radicals that led to angry protests by the minority community. The attacks against Sikhs are on the rise as radical elements are gaining strength with the able help of administration. On August 7, 2014 one Sikh trader was shot down by gunmen near his shop in Peshawar market, firing also injured two others. This is yet another attack on minorities in Pakistan as violence continues unabated while authorities fail to capture culprits of such hate crimes.
(See pic) The picture is not much different for Hindus in Bangladesh either, since 1971 when as many as 30 million (3 crore) Hinuds were brutalised, gangraped and killed by Pakistan Army and Bangladeshi radicals, the atrocities have continued unabated. Even though, it was India who helped Bangladesh in getting freedom, yet Hindus are targeted and perceived to be ‘Indian agents’ and hence, their killings are justified under false assumptions. The population of Hindus has come down from 25% in 1947 in Bangladesh to below 9% at present. Hindus meet the same fate in Bangladesh as well be it forceful conversions, attacks on commercial properties, houses and temples, targeted attacks and farmland grabbing. The exodus of Hindus fearing for their life continues and this is an alarming situation that needs redress as soon as possible.
While minorities are being terrorized by groups with political motives, it is tough for them to secure a safe passage to India as well, and even if they do, at a considerable risk to their lives, they find it difficult to stay in India and seek asylum or citizenship due to insensitivity to their plight. When they come here, they cannot do any jobs, their children can’t get into schools and they are not allowed to venture into any business proposition; these issues must be tackled and a will to correct such a situation must be shown by Indian government and the international community which will give the migrant community a hope. We ask the authorities to ensure smooth passage of minority groups that are often heckled, and abused while crossing borders. It is also to be noted that no voice is being raised at international level about this issue. Then, the citizenship cases must be decided on a fast track basis, so that the migrant community may get some relief.
Our aim: We, therefore, urge that the Government of India to demonstrate their will to safeguard rights of the Hindus and Sikhs coming to India and also, to facilitate and allow safe passage to them and allow them to seek refuge and getting swifter citizenship of India. Hindus and Sikhs who have entered in India after 1947 should be given Indian citizenship as per the rules laid down by the government. As refugees, Sikhs and Hindus should be covered by various welfare schemes by the government. Often migrants complain of apathy related to education of children, and non availability of proper channels so as to pursue their cases. Most human rights organizations have failed to even highlight their plight and therefore, it is important that people of India and their leaders rise up to the occasion.
Prime Minister Office Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi