About 200 Pakistani Hindus crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border on Monday (February 3), officials said amid indications that several travellers did not wish to go back.
The Pakistani Hindus, who came to India on a visitors’ visa, claimed that they felt unsafe in Pakistan and wanted to seek asylum. They also hoped to get citizenship in India after the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) came into force.
Akali Dal leader and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa was at the border to receive four families who he claimed had ‘fled’ Pakistan due to religious persecution.
It was also pointed out by the Borders official that the number of Hindu travellers from Pakistan using this border to cross over to the country had increased significantly over the past month.
The CAA envisages giving Indian nationality to members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities, who came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 due to religious persecution there.
Most of the travellers crossing over to India on Monday belonged to the Sindh and Karachi areas. Some of them carried luggage and said they would seek asylum in India.
One of the Pakistani Hindus on condition of anonymity said after CAA, Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan and Afghanistan were ‘optimistic’ of getting Indian citizenship.
Most of them were travelling to Rajasthan to meet their relatives, they said.
“We are not feeling safe in Pakistan. Our girls feel insecure as they fear that they could be kidnapped any time by hardliners while police watch as mute spectators. Our girls cannot walk freely in the north-west area of Pakistan,” said a woman.
Two more women, without disclosing their names, told the media that kidnapping of Hindu girls had become a routine affair in Pakistan and no family dared to lodge a complaint with police against fundamentalists.
Meanwhile, Sirsa said he would meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday and requested him to grant them Indian citizenship.
“4 Hindu-Sikh families have fled Pakistan to save their life and religious faith. I received the family members today at the border. We are meeting HM @AmitShah Ji tomorrow to request him to grant them citizenship at the earliest possible,” Sirsa tweeted.
4 Hindu-Sikh families have fled Pakistan to save their life and religious faith
I recvd the family members today at border. We are meeting HM @AmitShah Ji tomo to request him to grant them citizenship at the earliest possible 🙏🏻@PTI_News @ANI @ZeeNews @republic @thetribunechd pic.twitter.com/1nMyY7Jt5l
— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) February 3, 2020
(With inputs from agencies)