New Delhi: Refugees, who fled from Pakistan to India, escaping religious prosecution and atrocities they faced in their country, are urging the central government to provide them Indian citizenship.
Delhi: Refugees from Pakistan, currently residing in Rajasthan, request govt to grant them Indian citizenship. They say "We have been living here since 12-13 years. We request the govt to grant us Indian citizenship. Schools ask for our IDs when we approach them for our children" pic.twitter.com/WPA3CapIwa— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2019
Refugees say "Life is very difficult in Pakistan. Children are abducted&girls are molested&forcefully converted.Locals don't let us work.We've lived our life but we want a better future for our children. There are so many like us there, request govt to set up camps&help them all" pic.twitter.com/2ZVZbSxldk— ANI (@ANI) January 23, 2019
Residing in Rajasthan on temporary visas, which need to be renewed early, these migrants are struggling for identity and are finding it difficult to provide education to their children.
All of them are born and brought up in Pakistan. They came to India a decade back when the situation worsened across the border. They now wish to live in a safe nation where their children can get education freely. In Pakistan, they had to face a tough time with no freedom of religion and education.
“We want our children to be successful in life. Indian Government should organise a camp and grant citizenship to the thousands of refugees in India,” one of the refugees told ANI.
Hope was revived for these people when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed in the Lok Sabha. However, it was later opposed by several political parties in the Parliament.
If the bill gets a nod from the Parliament then illegal migrants from certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will then be eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
While talking to ANI a few of them shared the tales of torture and harassment they faced in Pakistan. Teary eyed while narrating their ordeals, they said that they still fear in revealing their identities as according to them it can create problems for their relatives in Pakistan.
One of the eight migrants, Sunita (name changed), who migrated to India in 2008. She got married in Pakistan and is a mother of three. Recalling the problem she faced in Pakistan, Sunita said there was no freedom of religion and Pakistanis used to kidnap and force them for conversion and molest them. Even women were confined to homes only.
“When the situation became worse, we migrated to India. We have come to Delhi to demand Indian citizenship for ourselves and our children. We have faced many difficulties in past. So, we hope that the Indian government will now listen to us and do the needful,” she said.
Sunita is not alone as another migrant told ANI about the problems she is facing here because of the citizenship issue.
“Our children are not getting admission as education institutions demand identity proofs. We request to the Indian government to give us citizenship so that we can educate our children,” said Rekha (changed name).
Echoing similar sentiments, Rakesh (changed name), Sunita's husband, expressed grief and said, “We came here for the future of our children. There was no education in Pakistan for our children, no freedom at all. We can’t do business there. If we used to do any business, people there used to extort money from us. They tortured us by saying you can’t live freely in Pakistan, if you want to leave, go back to India.”
Further telling his story, an emotional Rakesh said, “Pakistanis kidnapped my child. It felt like I lost everything. I even had to quit my business. I came here so that I can save my religion, keep my daughters safe. My relatives are still in Pakistan facing troubles on a day-to-day basis. I request the Indian government to please grant us citizenship and solve our problems as soon as possible.”
"When we were in Pakistan, we always used to fear whether our children will come back home whenever they used to go out for studies. My relatives in Pakistan are facing a harrowing time as the present situation has become worse. They are waiting for us to get settled here and then they will also migrate", he added.
Another migrant said, “I couldn’t allow my daughters to study after Class 5 and 6 in Pakistan because they used to kidnap and molest them. They looted us and used to torture regularly”, said Kapil (changed name).
Making a similar request, Ramdas (changed name) said he had faced tough times in Pakistan and wants his life to get easier, “The whole world is watching what Pakistanis are doing to Hindus. We pray to the Indian government for citizenship. We are struggling really hard to be a part of the country.
“Goons entered my home and hit me hard with a gun and broke my leg. At that time only I decided that we couldn’t survive there and we came to India,” he added.