In­dia has let Hin­dus down

The suf­fer­ing of the Pak­istani refugees isn’t enough of an emo­tive is­sue to help politi­cians win elec­tions

India Today - - COVER STORY - Av­inash Rai Khanna The writer is a Ra­jya Sabha MP from Pun­jab

Six and a half decades af­ter it was cre­ated as an in­de­pen­dent na­tion, Pak­istan con­tin­ues to keep its Hindu cit­i­zens on the very mar­gins of its so­ci­ety. In this mod­ern age where hu­man val­ues and hu­man rights are con­cerns that tran­scend na­tional boundaries and hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sions to res­cue lit­tle boys from bore-wells go live on TV and vi­ral on the In­ter­net, Pak­istan taunts the world by deny­ing Hin­dus and other mi­nori­ties the right to live with dig­nity, peace and equal­ity.

On the other side of the fron­tier cre­ated in 1947, nei­ther life nor prop­erty of Hin­dus is safe. Their daugh­ters are rou­tinely ab­ducted and raped. They are forced to con­vert and marry lo­cal Mus­lims against their will. Just this March, even the Supreme Court of Pak­istan failed to res­cue two Hindu teenage girls, leav­ing them in­stead to their un­for­tu­nate and ter­ri­ble fate. Rin­kle Ku­mari was kid­napped from Mirpur and Asha Ku­mari was taken from Ja­cob­a­bad but the hon­ourable judges chose not to in­ter­vene. The Euro­pean Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Pak­istani Mi­nori­ties ( EOPM), an NGO, has even cas­ti­gated the Pak­istan Army for per­se­cut­ing mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties. A re­cent

EOPM re­port charges that sol­diers take away mi­nor­ity women and keep them as sex slaves. Even Pak­istan’s Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, in 2011, ad­mit­ted that mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties are “not safe” in Pak­istan. The po­lice do not ac­knowl­edge these atroc­i­ties and the cul­prits know they will go scot-free. On Au­gust 10, 2010, four Hin­dus—mo­hab­bat Mall, Paro Mall, Biro Mall and Pyara Mall—were kid­napped by a mob from po­lice cus­tody in Mirpur Khas, Sindh. No ac­tion was taken. Left with­out any op­tion, these peo­ple look to In­dia for de­liv­er­ance. Pak­istan Hindu Sewa, a so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tion try­ing to help Hin­dus in Pak­istan, es­ti­mates that more than 400 Hindu fam­i­lies have fled the coun­try over the past 10 months, most of them to In­dia. But sadly, not once has In­dia for­mally raised the is­sue with the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment.

Scores of Hindu fam­i­lies from Pak­istan have been camp­ing in In­dia for years, even decades. They have been plead­ing to be granted cit­i­zen­ship but In­dia’s highly strin­gent reg­u­la­tions have made it im­pos­si­ble for them to be as­sim­i­lated. The ex­am­ple of Om Lal Pishori who fled Pak­istan along with six other fam­i­lies, 35 peo­ple in all, on Septem­ber 20, 1999, and set­tled in Khanna, Pun­jab, stares us in our faces. Thir­teen years on, peo­ple like him re­main for­eign­ers in the land where they had sought sal­va­tion.

The Khanna fam­i­lies’ fate is per­haps only a lit­tle bet­ter than the 3,500 Hindu fam­i­lies who mi­grated to Jammu in 1947 but have still not been ac­cepted as In­di­ans. They now num­ber more than 100,000 fam­i­lies.

The suf­fer­ing of the Pak­istani Hindu fam­i­lies has not be­come a po­lit­i­cal is­sue in this coun­try be­cause it does not win elec­tions. Iron­i­cally, the prob­lem of a sec­tion of In­dia’s ma­jor­ity com­mu­nity is no­body’s prob­lem.

OM LAL PISHORI

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