Refuge and citizenship to religious minorities of Pakistan and Bangladesh

GOI, AI, HRW, EU, UN, USA, UK, Canada, AHRC, NHRC, Indian Political parties: Refuge and citizenship to religious minorities of Pakistan and BangladeshObjective: Facilitating minority groups (Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyas) in Pakistan and Hindus of Bangladeshto 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 or other countries, depending upon their preference, albeit humanely. 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 and healing of these migrants.

Background: In 1947, India was divided into three parts viz. Pakistan, India and East Pakistan or East Bengal (now Bangladesh). Despite being formed as secular countries by its founders Muhammed Ali Jinnah and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman of Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively, both the nations have become hostile towards their minority groups including but not limited to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyas.

The population of Hindus has diminished considerably in Pakistan, and they have declined below 2% of the total population from 21% in last 67 years, while Sikhs too are living under pitiable conditions with several cases of violence unleashed against this small community. Christian and small minority population group like Ahmadiyas have also been on the radar of the fundamentalist forces in Pakistan and are under a constant threat of the blasphemy law which is levied only to terrorise the minority groups by a compromised state authority and backed mutely by political forces.

Of late, radicalism is raising its head in Bangladesh as well, where minority Hindu population is being targeted for political gains. There have been several instances of Hindu houses and temples being torched and vandalized in these countries. There have been a number of attacks on Hindu localities and despite several oral condemnations by political parties, the hate crimes continue unabated.

Current situation: As a result, forceful conversions, abductions, land grabbing cases, rapes, murders, kidnapping for ransom and denial of equal rights has become a part of the religious groups in Pakistan especially (cases in point: Asia Bibi and Sawan Masih blasphemy case, Larkana Temple attack and forced conversion of Hindu girls like Rinkle Kumari and Pooja Gupta, and the target killing of Pramjeet Singh and several other Sikhs).

Pakistan: Sikhs lash out against murder, kidnappings

The Hindus of Bangladesh Fear for Their Future

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 international humanitarian organizations and Indian authorities 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, so that the migrant community may get some relief.

Our aim: We, therefore, urge that the government and political parties of India, social and religious groups, and global human rights organizations like Amnesty International, UNHRC, European Union, US government, and others to demonstrate their will to safeguard rights of the migrant population coming to India and also, to facilitate and allow safe passage to them. They may move to another country of their choice if they so desire, but a safe passage is a requirement that must be ensured at all costs and once they cross, an effective redress mechanism be put into place to ensure their livelihood with dignity.