Adhik Bhadrapad Krushna 10, Kaliyug Varsha 5114
Jaipur (Rajasthan) : Thousands of Pakistani Hindu migrants living in the State for the past several years without any valid documents are once again hopeful of getting Indian citizenship even as a fresh group of 171 Hindus from Pakistan arrived in Jodhpur on Sunday by the Thar Express.
Hindus migrated from Pakistan
According to official sources, the district collectors have received instructions from the Home and External Affairs Ministry through the State Government to forward the applications of displaced Hindus from Pakistan by the end of this week to initiate the process to grant them Indian citizenship.
The last such scheme to give Indian citizenship to migrant Hindus from Pakistan was initiated in 2004 when there was an NDA Government at the Centre. Thousands of such migrant Hindus were able to get Indian citizenship in one stroke.
According to official sources, those who have been living in India as refugees from Pakistan for the past seven years would be eligible to get Indian citizenship. Those who missed the bus the last time would now get their chance.
According to rough estimates, about 4,000 displaced Hindus from Pakistan would be benefited under the scheme. Most of them are living in border districts of Jodhpur, Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Sri Ganganagar. Each person has to pay anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 20,000 as fee, sources said.
Hindu Singh Sodha, convener of Pak Visthanpit Sangh, has been pleading with the Union Home Ministry for long that the fee should be reduced to a nominal value as most displaced Hindus are daily wage earners and many could not apply to get Indian citizenship in 2004 for this reason alone.
Sodha said there is no formal policy to grant Indian citizenship to those Hindus from Pakistan who had fled the country because of religious discrimination. According to rough estimates, over one lakh Hindus have left Pakistan since the 1971 war between the two countries. In the absence of any policy, these migrant families had to wait for decades to get Indian citizenship and become eligible for getting jobs and other facilities just like any other Indian.
Meanwhile, Chetan Das, leader of the group of 171 that has arrived here recently, said that though they had come here on pilgrim visa for a month, they have no plans to return. All of them are staying at Dali Bai Temple and the Visthapit Sangh is looking after their needs. According to Sodha, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has been informed about the plight of these Hindus and their decision not to return to Pakistan.
According to Das, who was a two-time councillor in Matiari, more Hindu groups are expected to reach here having been granted the same visas. Though the group had got the visa about three months ago, they kept their plan to visit India a secret as they feared that the Pakistan Government may detain them, Das said.
Das said the discrimination faced by Hindus in the neighbouring country was real. “My cousin Amar Das is Tehsildar in Mirpur Khas. His peon refused him a glass of water and the Patwari under him declined to follow his orders,” he said.
Source : Daily Pioneer