In an inquiry report submitted to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) claimed that members of the Hindu community travelling to India were ‘visitors’ intending to return to Pakistan after making a pilgrimage to their holy sites.
However, some travel agents might be involved in pursuing certain elite members of the Hindu community by promising them asylum in India, conceded FIA Director General Muhammad Anwar Virk during a meeting chaired by the interior minister on Saturday.
“The Hindus travelling to India said they were going to visit their religious sites there and were not migrating permanently,” said the DG FIA, quoting the travellers who volunteered to give statements, adding that 117 people from the intended 250 have already left while the remaining would leave on Saturday.
However, a civil society activist expressed concern over their travel, saying that the Hindus were actually migrating to India and that the ‘pilgrimage’ was actually a cover for them leaving Pakistan. Dr Hassan Nasir, senior vice president of Awami Party Pakistan (APP) feared the families might never return.
“The reason is they no longer feel safe living in Pakistan. They are blatantly robbed of their property, their valuables, their daughters are forcibly married and converted and the government does nothing,” said Dr Nasir. He, along with other activists, was protesting over the same issue in front of the National Press Club here.
The interior minister asked the DG FIA to compile details and submit a report probing every complaint of forced conversions and marriages. The report on forced marriages will be published for public scrutiny, the minister said.
Besides directing the FIA head to probe the issue of agents ‘misguiding’ certain members of the Hindu community for seeking asylum in India, the minister also asked him to assist the committee constituted by President Asif Ali Zardari to look into complaints made by the Hindu community in Sindh.
The minister, however, rejected as speculations media reports about mass migration by the minority group to India. He said certain television channels and a section of media were spreading rumours. He directed the FIA chief to keep an eye on such elements.
“If any agency spots any case where some kind of injustice is done (to the Hindu community), it should be dealt with severely. A cell has been established in FIA whereby all victims, if any, may call to report such incidents.
The minister assured the Hindu community that their rights shall be fully protected. “We will not allow anyone to over step the Constitution of Pakistan which provides full rights to minorities for practicing their religion,” said Malik.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.
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