Jalandhar: Facing alleged social
discrimination and economic backwardness, a number of Hindus
and Sikhs from Pakistan want to embrace Indian citizenship.
Many Pakistanis belonging to Hindu and Sikh faiths have
been living with their relatives in various parts of India for
years and many of them want to be here permanently.
About 200 such families have been residing in this city
for over 10 years. While some of them have acquired
citizenship of this country, many who are still waiting accuse
the Indian government of being "apathetic" to their condition.
Sammakh Ram, who migrated here with his family from
Peshawar in 1998, claims that the condition of Hindus in the
neighbouring country is "miserable".
"You can`t imagine how Hindus are treated there. We
neither have any rights nor facilities," he said.
Ram claims that about 15-20 lakh Hindus and Sikhs in
Pakistan are willing to settle in India as "they do not have
religious rights and are socially and economically backward."
"Now, this is our country and we will not go back to
Pakistan at any cost," he said.
Senior Punjab Minister Upinderjit Kaur said,
"Citizenship is given on the basis of certain rules and not on
Seeking intervention of the Union government to resolve
the problems of Hindus and Sikhs, Kaur asked the Centre to
take up the matter with Pakistan authorities and ensure
protection of human rights of the minorities in that country.
Thakkar Sapaal, who moved here from Sialkot, said Hindus
and Sikhs in Pakistan face inconvenience when it comes to
performing the last rites of their family members.
"There are hardly any cremation grounds for us there. We
usually travel 300-400 kms to cremate our people," he said.
Buaditta, another man who migrated to India from Sialkot,
claimed: "Sometimes we are prevented from celebrating
religious festivals there and are threatened."
Seventy-year-old Mulk Raj, who left his business in
Karachi and settled here, claims that Pakistani authorities
sometimes even want them to spy for their country.
Mulk Raj came here with his family of ten, out of whom
four have acquired Indian citizenship. Though he is an Indian
citizen now, his wife is not.
"We face problems in getting our passports renewed. In
India, we are asked to go to Pakistan and get official letters
from there to get new passports. When we go there, we are not
given the letters that we need," he said.
BJP MP Avinash Rai Khanna said the party has constituted
a committee to look into the problems of such people.
"We have demanded that Punjab government give a monthly
grant of Rs 500 to each member of such families living in the
state, a maximum of Rs 2,000 per family."