Khanna: Several Hindu families from Pakistan
staying in Khanna, Rajpura and other towns of Punjab are
seeking Indian citizenship, citing that they cannot go back
"as atmosphere of terror prevails there."
Despite being in India for several years, the government
is yet to accept their pleas for citizenship, claimed many of
those who moved to India.
Om Lal, currently residing in New Model Town here, said
he is a Pakistani Hindu, who shifted to India with his family
on September 20, 1999, on the basis of Pakistan passport.
He said his family has been allowed to stay in India on
year to year basis.
Lal said at the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner`s office in
2007 his family applied for Indian citizenship.
Their application had been forwarded to Department of
Home Affairs and Justice, Punjab Government, from where the
case had been forwarded with positive recommendation to the
Secretary, Union Home Affairs Ministry on May 26, 2010.
"We cannot go back. There is an atmosphere of terror
prevailing in Pakistan. We want the Government to grant us
Indian citizenship," Lal said.
Around 35 members of six families from Pakistan are
residing in Khanna town. Some families are also staying in
Rajpura for a long time ago and are seeking citizenship.
These families rued that their world is limited to
the jurisdiction of Khanna and Rajpura as they are allowed to
leave the station only after police permission.
"They had entered India with valid travel documents, but
refused to return home citing that an atmosphere of terror
prevailed there and ill treatment in Pakistan," a police
official in Rajpura said.
A Pakistani Hindu said, "Though I am not allowed outside
Rajpura without permission, I would prefer staying here rather
than going back."
"In the absence of citizenship rights, we face problem
related to employment, housing, health, education and
others... We consider India as our motherland and this is the
only and last resort available for us."
Scores of Pakistani Hindu families have requested Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh to listen to their grievances.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai
Khanna said he has taken up the issue of such families in the
Rajya Sabha recently.
Khanna, who is heading a three-member committee of the
BJP constituted to locate and help Pakistani Hindu families,
said they were forced to leave Pakistan "due to an atmosphere
of terror there, especially the Taliban."