- No job, no house, no money, no food
- Pakistan’s largest religious minority are Hindus
- There was not even a single day when we could live in peace
New Delhi, August 15, 2017: After India got Independence from British Rule, India and Pakistan were created, Pakistan became a separate nation on 14 August 1947 and India, a separate nation on 15 August 1947.
Still, for some Hindus, Partition is not over yet as they are still struggling to come back to India and even when they reach, they are unable to live a life of dignity as an Indian Citizen. For decades, Jogdas (a Hindu who lived in Pakistan) wanted to move to India to escape the hostility he suffered as a Hindu in Muslim dominated Pakistan. But the reality of life they (all Pakistani Hindus living in camps) are living over the border is starkly different from what they wanted. It has been 71 years since the partition, the largest migration of people in the human history ever. Pakistani Hindus are still moving from Pakistan to India, where thousands are living in deteriorating conditions in makeshift camps near the border area with no legal right to work.
Many have no choice but to move illegally around the places near which they live because their movements are strictly controlled by the authorities who sees anyone who move from across the border with suspicious eyes. It is not the kind of welcome most of them expected in Hindu-majority India in-spite of being Hindus.
Jogdas, 81, said” No job, no house, no money, no food. There, we were working in the fields, we were farmers. But here people like us are forced to break rocks to earn a living,” mentioned AFP report. It’s a tough life for them.”For us, the partition is still not over. Pakistani Hindus are still trying to come back to their country and when they come here, they have nothing.” He lives in a camp on the outskirts of Jodhpur.
Due to partition many people were uprooted, the estimate suggests 15 million and it triggered months of tragic violence and chaos all around, a million people were killed due to their religion. Amid all the chaos and bloodshed, Hindus and Sikhs came to India and Muslims moved to Pakistan.
Despite the mass departure of people from both sides, Pakistan’s largest religious minority are Hindus. They are believed to be around 1.6 % in 200 million Pakistanis with Muslim religion.
Many say they have to face discrimination, risk getting kidnapped, raped and also forced marriage. Jogdas said that the harassment started very soon after partition. His family had only moved to Pakistan only a few months before partition in order to escape a devastating drought. He said, “There was not even a single day when we could live in peace. I wanted to come back to live with my Hindu brothers.We are alone,” mentioned AFP report.
Pakistan’s Sindh province is the place from where many migrants came to India. They took a 4 hour long train journey, going through Thar Desert to Jodhpur in Rajasthan. They share the culture, food, and language of Rajasthan should have made it easier for them to adjust in their adopted homeland. But the reality is totally different as they live far from local communities and local people in isolated camps, and are treated with suspicion by authorities on a frequent basis.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have said that it wants to make it easier for persecuted Pakistani Hindus to find refuge in India. Last year the rules were changed and it allowed immigrants to apply for citizenship in the state where they currently live, instead of going to the central government for this.
Hindus from Pakistan are qualified for a fast track to citizenship after living seven years in the country. But because of bureaucratic delays, the process of citizenship takes much longer to complete.
Khanaramji, 64, in 2005 became an Indian citizen but the irony is that he fled Pakistan in 1997. He said that there were many others with him but they gave up their hopes and returned to Pakistan, disappointed by life in India where they couldn’t live a life they thought was possible here. According to AFP report, he said, “There is no assistance from the government. We are just like cattle with no owners. We are just surviving on our own. Life becomes hell.” What is worse than the poverty for them is the suspicion from authorities.”Those who do not have citizenship are harassed by (intelligence) agencies. They are always treated like suspects and agents of Pakistan,” said Khanaramji.
Hindu Singh Sodha said, “They spend most of what they earn on going to police stations and agency offices,” mentioned AFP report. He runs a charity in Jodhpur for Pakistani Hindus seeking to settle in India, said that they had high hopes from Modi when he came to office in 2014, but had to taste only disappointment.
The migrants are the ones who still have to face inspection whenever tensions come up between India and Pakistan; this is become a frequent occurrence under the Modi government. Their life becomes a living hell. “Because everything is affected, their shelter, healthcare, access to education, their livelihood,” said Sodha. But sad truth is that some tolerate this also.
Two years ago, Horoji fled to India with his two adult sons after receiving death threats from their Muslim neighbors in Pakistan. “To save our lives, we had to run to India,” said 65-year-old Horoji. His grandparents were originally from India but they found themselves on the wrong side of the border at the time of partition. “My grandfather had gone to the other side for work. But he told us to move to India at the right time as he sensed that times would not be safe for Hindus in future.”
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