'Pak Hindu pilgrims do not intend to return back from India'
Islamabad: Scores of Pakistani Hindu pilgrims currently in India's Rajasthan have said they do not intend to return to their country, a media report said on Monday.
A group of 171 Pakistani Hindus travelled to Jodhpur on the Thar Express train yesterday. Though the Hindus are on a pilgrimage, their leader said they would not go back to Pakistan, according to BBC Urdu.
The Samenath Lok Sangathan, an organisation working for the welfare of Hindus, has appealed to the Indian government to accord refugee status to the pilgrims.
The Pakistanis were welcomed at Jodhpur railway station by SLS workers who made arrangements for their stay and food.
A spokesman for SLS, which has been working to resettle Pakistani Hindus in India, said all 171 Pakistani Hindus, including 32 women and children, were residents of Sanghar and Hyderabad cities of Sindh province.
They belong to the Bheel tribe.
Complaining about the "miserable condition" of Hindus in Sindh, one of the Pakistani pilgrims told BBC Urdu that his father recently died but local Muslims did not allow him to perform the last rites.
"We are feeling insecure because of the alarming rise in Islamic extremism in Pakistan. We would rather die here (India) than go back to Pakistan," the pilgrim said.
The SLS spokesman said the Pakistanis who reached Jodhpur were visibly shaken.
"They are worried about their future because it is a matter between two countries," he contended.
Reports say Hindus, particularly those in Sindh, are victims of persecution, including forced conversion to Islam, extortion demands and kidnapping for ransom.
Reports in the Pakistani media have said a sizeable number of Hindus are planning to seek asylum in India.
On August 10, President Asif Ali Zardari formed a parliamentary committee to investigate the persecution of Hindus. The committee comprising parliamentarians visited different cities of Sindh and met Hindus.
In its initial report, the panel said Hindus had complained that the abduction of Hindu girls and their forced conversion had caused resentment and a sense of insecurity in the minority community.