An Appeal by Pakistani Hindu Refugees in India




By Indiaresists.com,

New Delhi: Around hundred Pakistani refugees are sitting on an indefinite Dharna at Jantar Mantar with a plea to Indian government to establish a permanent mechanism bring lasting solutions in the deteriorated conditions of Pak Hindu Migrants in India. Following is a note circulated by them, signed by Hindu Singh Sodha, President, Seemant Lok Sangathan/Universal Just Action Society.

This is to bring your kind notice, a prolong- neglected and painful issue of Pak Hindu migrants/refugees, that, the ever increasing trends of religious fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan have made the minorities more vulnerable to be easily victimized of religious persecution thus are frightened and continue fleeing outside to save their lives. The Hindus/Sikhs/Christians in Pakistan are particularly made soft target and victim of atrocities included forcible conversion to Islam, kidnapping/forcible conversion and force marriages of young Hindu girls, kidnapping and rapes of Hindu women, kidnapping for ransom, violence/harassment by law enforcement agencies, murders of Hindus and various other criminalized tactics are also being used against Hindu minority in Pakistan. Thus, the marginalized Hindu/Sikh minorities of Pakistan prefer migrating to India seeking it as their spiritual home Mainly the Hindus have had last resort been migrating overwhelmingly since last two decades to be settled in their neighboring desert of Rajasthan/India where they claim their ancestral roots and kinship, similar culture & language as well as spiritual & religious freedom, also resembling ecology and livelihood patterns etcetera.



That, where on one side there is no sound minority protective legislative mechanism in Pakistan which leads an increasing exodus of Pak Hindus towards India mainly Rajasthan, while on the other hand both at national and state government level there doesn’t prevail any conducive refugee friendly receiving/absorption policy & mechanism, as India is not signatory to Refugee convention 1951, as well as not its protocol 1967 and also there doesn’t exist any national level refugees’ legislation. Ironically, the Foreigners Act/ Foreigners Registration Acts and other associated legislative framework of India, under which these refugees are being currently dealing with, put extra restrictions to the sole Pakistani nationals due to national security concerns – thus these vulnerable Pak Hindu minorities remain excluded even to avail the rights which are otherwise entitled to the foreigners in India. In a result these vulnerable migrants forcibly suffer to stay minimum seven years deprived with all the basic rights in order to get nationality which in many cases they practically don’t get even above ten years of period. This entire situation indirectly disseminates a message by Indian government revealing its policy of discouragement to receive migration of these religiously persecuted Pak Hindus in India, and ultimately put them down exposed to risks of religious persecution and further compelled to succumb of forcible conversion to Islam and other associated atrocities back in Pakistan.

That, this entire problem is not just limited to those 10000 Pak Hindu migrants who are yet to get citizenship in India (mainly in Rajasthan) but with current population of nearly eight hundred thousand (800000) Pak Hindu migrants arrived and further multiplied in India (mainly in Rajasthan, then Gujrat followed by Madhya Pradesh & some other states) since 1965 & 19 71; who mainly staying around border areas in Rajasthan & Gujrat- even after getting their nationality with prolong hardships- are also continuing to be harassed, discriminated and more particularly excluded from mainstream benefits by both the concerned government authorities and host communities due to various reasons including a perception of pseudo-doubts upon their previous nationality-association with Pakistan etc. This entire situation makes these Pakistani Hindu migrants more vulnerable due to diverse stereotyping marginality tags make adhered to them by locals like minority/Hindu/ Kafirs/ and agents of RAW there in Pakistan and while flee here to India they are not only migrant without refugee status but also called as Pakistanis (in some cases are harassed by putting stereotyped blames with their likely association with ISI or terrorists in Pakistan), also they are actually most poverty stricken families many with the status of schedule casts and tribes and as well become more susceptible when they are further stereotyped/tagged as women and children of these Pakistani vulnerable migrants. Unfortunately, while fleeing Pakistan and arriving India as Hindus, their plight is even not to be heard/addressed by the both national & international organization working on human rights, as they all ignore them conceiving Hindus (part of majority segment in India), it is reason that United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants have also not incorporated this group as migrant/refugee in India in its World Refugee report 2008. Also, this group is left excluded from almost surveys and refugee developmental plans/projects undertook/devised/executed by various national and international segments in India. Even, during the usual up-gradations/amendments in migrants/refugee related national laws this group has had never considered by legislators in any amendment of relevant law/act/bill in order to make relevant legal regime friendly particularly for this very marginalised group in India. Thus, these most marginalized migrant/refugee communities desperately deprived getting access to their basic rights including right to justice, right to self-recognition, right to associate, political rights, right to work, right to educate, right to health, cultural rights and rights of accessing to the social security programs etc.

That, despite of having no formal legislative/policy mechanism at national level, various state governments have rather been taking admirable steps helping different refugee groups within respective states by providing at least the state level mechanisms to solve the problems of refugees staying in the respective states. Like in Asam the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act was introduced by Indra Gandhi and the Congress government in 1983 to provide a conducive legal regime to the Bangladeshi Muslim illegal migrants. Later on, through an amendment in citizenship act 1955 a special section was also incorporated for these illegal migrants in Assam to get nationality at once all who arrived by 1966. Similarly, since couple of decades the Tamil migrants of Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu and Tibetan Migrants in Himachal Pardesh have been entertaining almost facilities which migrants conventionally used to avail while having in refugee status. Interestingly, UNHRC is also providing protection to migrants in India from Burma, Afghanistan, Iran, and various others. However, we have had only remained concern about the ignorance and negligence of relevant authorities towards Pak Hindu migrants in India (mainly in Rajasthan) which is also among few of such larger groups (in the numbers) staying in India- which is yet remained totally neglected & discriminated.

That, UJAS- (which is working on the rights of Pak Hindu migrants in India, since a decade & half) along with Pak-migrants and their host families of Rajasthan- has decided to hold demonstration at Jantar Mantar Delhi onwards 19th February 2014, demanding the following from authorities concerned.

1. Bringing in slight amendments (friendly to religiously persecuted Pak Hindu migrants) under section 5.1.b & f, 5 (6), 6A, 7A & 16 of Citizenship Act 1955 through Citizenship (amendment) bill 2013 likely to be passed soon in Lok Sabha. The proposed amendments are annexed bellow.

2. It is welcoming that 180 countries got visa-on-arrival facility by government of India but it is again sad that Religious minorities (natural citizens of undivided India subjected to article 6 of constitution of India) are made deprived to enter India by availing this facility. Thus, we demand to include Pak religious minorities in the list eligible to avail the facility of visa-on-arrival at India.

3. Central government through its concerned legal/legislative ministry should assemble a team of expert legal advisors and must to review the current regime of national laws related to refugees/migrants- which either adversely affecting or don’t provide enough cover to solve the problems of Pak (religiously persecuted) migrants- and should accordingly propose the amendments providing the conducive environment to these migrants intend to seek their protection/survival by staying in India as their last resort. {It is important to note that it is laid down by article 13 of constitution of India that all laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights to the extent of such inconsistency or derogation are treated to be void. The State is also enjoined not to make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution of India and any law made in contravention of Article 13 shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void. So far as Article 21 is concerned it lays down that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. Thus all the laws/regulations made so far which adversely affect & take away or abridge the rights- of specially the Pak (religiously persecuted minorities) migrants staying in India on LTV- should treated to be void, and ensure these migrants are entitled with all their rights to work, mobility, open bank account, driving licence etc, etc}

4. Influence to bring in both at centre and state (Rajasthan) level comprehensive legislative framework (through passing an act/bill) provided with setting up an autonomous centre/ state (Rajasthan) level institutional mechanism (advisory board/commission) aimed at holistically protect the basic rights of migrants staying on LTV in India (mainly Rajasthan)- in lieu of sectoral international standards- and also ensure the focused integration/rehabilitation of the migrants (according to their socio-economic profiles/vulnerability) as early as they attain citizenship in order to avoid their exclusion/discrimination in the practicing mainstreamed social security & developmental schemes of the government. {The legislative frameworks should be developed with extensive consultations with the migrants themselves and UJAS as their representative as grassroots to ensure the protection of their all basic rights including right to justice, right to self-recognition, right to associate, political rights, right to work, right to educate, right to health, cultural rights and rights of accessing to the social security programs etc}

5. In meantime (until the demanded legislative & institutional frameworks/mechanism are in place with the full functions as desired) both the central government and Rajasthan state government should immediately announce & execute a special package for the rights protection/and development of at least the most vulnerable migrants’ groups staying in India mainly in Rajasthan without any help. {this package could be announced/and executed based on a rapid survey knowing the current status of most vulnerable migrants- in this connection consultations and engagements of UJAS/SLS & concerned FRRO could be helpful}. However, the key demands are presented below:
(a) Shelter, food, schooling, healthcare and other basic amenities should be provided on war-footing to all the helpless migrants who are staying without refugee status/ and deprived of such amenities (either are staying as guest with their parents or in open sky).
(b) The lengthy, complicated and delayed contemporary citizenship process should be made easy and friendly for at least those Pak Hindu Migrants staying on LTV in India and are eligible and as well waiting to acquire their citizenship. In this regards the powers of granting citizenship be delegated to the DMs level and also the newly introduced fees structure on citizenship should be waived off.
(c) The applicability/governance issues in order to receive citizenship applications as per citizenship act 1955, u/s 5.1.f (a person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for one year immediately before making an application for registration) should be resolved with immediate effect.
(d) No deportations by force to Pak hindu migrants, as these displaced people are migrating back to India due to religious discrimination and on cultural grounds (marriages).
(e) Visa extension/additional visa powers should be given to local FRRO’s/ state department of home.
(f) Once LTV is granted, the staying applicants should be allowed to work, to educate, to open bank account, to get driving licence, to move other localities for their work, health and other important social festivities, to own properties whatever they held are able to earn/hold and to get gas slanders & benefits of other social security schemes (housing/health/education) etc.
(g) No penalties/harassment should be imposed/exercised on over-stay are harassed to migrants on such reasons.

6. The issue of Pak Hindu migrants should also be incorporated in Lok Sabha election manifesto of your political party with the commitment to resolve the issue subjected the party comes into power (this charter of demand should also be made part of the election manifesto as commitment)

7. It is mandate of UNHCR providing international protection to refugees worldwide but the only Pak (religiously persecuted) migrants in India are forgotten/ignored by the UNHCR. We demand UNHCR also to include Pak (religiously persecuted) migrants in their target beneficiary.

We look forward that your kind honour will take up this plea on priority to influence the immediate actions of the presented demands which could only be lasting resort bringing permanent solution of problems of the Pak Hindu migrants in India (mainly in Rajasthan) seeking their survival, protection and development rights.
With warm regards,
(Hindu Singh Sodha)

UNIVERSAL JUST ACTION SOCITY
President,
Hindu Singh Sodha
2, Dilip Singh colony,
Near JDA, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Contact no.91-9414243331
Email.hssodha@gmail.com

Annex
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS FOR CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL 2013
(FOR PAK HINDU MIGRANTS IN INDIA)

1. Section 5.1b: a person of Indian origin (other than Pakistan & Bangladesh) who is ordinarily resident in any country or place outside undivided India (could be registered as citizen)-
Demand: religiously persecuted Hindu minorities of Pakistan should also be included as PIO scheme

2. Section 5-1f: a person of full age and capacity who, or either of his parents, was earlier citizen of independent India, and has been residing in India for one year immediately before making an application for registration (could be registered as citizen)
Demand: (a) An applicable and friendly governance/administrative procedural mechanism should be evolved to expedite the cases of citizenship u/s 5.1f, as under this provision majority of Pak Hindu migrants staying in India on LTV are likely eligible to apply for citizenship. (b) Also need to add following words in upcoming citizenship (amendment) bill 2013 like ‘grandparents/ancestors’ in addition to parents (either or any), and also ‘religiously persecuted communities (Hindus/Sikhs) in Pakistan be facilitated in early reacquisition of their citizenship considering them natural citizen of undivided India’. This will help to avoid mass exodus to India besides providing window to religiously persecuted Hindu minorities of Pakistan/Bangladesh enabling for reacquisition of the citizenship.

3. Section 5-(6). If the Central Government is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary to grant exemption from the residential requirement under clause (c) of sub-section (1) (about marrying with Indian nationals) to any person or a class of persons, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, grant such exemption.
Demand: this relaxation/favour should also be given to religiously persecuted Pak Hindu nationals coming to India (reducing time period from 7 years to 1 year u/s 5.1f as above)

4. Section 6-A. Part of special citizenship provision by Asam Accord wherein all Bangali illegal migrants arrived assam as of 1966 were made eligible and given citizenship at once
Demand: same should be done (reacquisition of citizenship at once) for religiously persecuted (Pak Hindu/Sikh) migrants who have yet arrived India.

5. Section 7-A. Registration of overseas citizens of India- to all PIOs including citizens (children/grandchildren) of undivided India (except Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other territory)
Demand: Religiously persecuted Pak Hindus/Sikhs should also be registered as OCI.

6. Section 16. Delegation of Power
Demand: The powers/authority of issuing citizenship to the religiously persecuted Pak minorities staying in India should be delegated to DMs permanently, as these migrant-communities are mainly illiterate and destitute unable to access/approach central authorities.