JAIPUR: Dozens of Pakistani Hindu pilgrims who arrived in the Indian state of Rajasthan on Sunday say they don’t want to go back, BBC Urdu reported on Monday.
A group of 48 Pakistani Hindus, travelling on board “Thar Express” train, reached Jodhpur city on Sunday. They have joined 347 Pakistani Hindus who are already staying in a temporary shelter in the city.
Half of the new arrivals belong to the Raikas clan – who are shepherds by profession. This is the first time that Raikas clansmen have travelled to India from Pakistan.
Earlier this month, 171 Hindu pilgrims, mostly from the Bheel community of Sindh, reached Jodhpur and refused to return, citing religious persecution at home.
The chief of Seemant Lok Sangthan (SLS), an organisation that works for the welfare of Hindus, said the pilgrims had nothing to eat. “The SLS is arranging food and shelter for them. Regrettably, no help is forthcoming from the government,” said social activist Hindu Singh Sodha.
These pilgrims complain about miserable living conditions and religious persecution in Pakistan.
Harak Chand, who hails from Sanghar district of Sindh, told the BBC that he had come to India with his wife and eight children to visit Hari Dwar Temple but he does not have money to perform the pilgrimage. “In fact, I am penniless,” he said.
There has been a sharp surge in the number of Hindus fleeing alleged religious persecution and discrimination in Pakistan.
Last week, a group of Pakistani Hindus staged a peace march to draw world attention towards their plight. They also met with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gilhot who assured them of his support.
Recently, India started granting citizenship to those Pakistani Hindus who have completed seven-year stay in India. Authorities say 900 Pakistani citizens are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship. They include the Hindus who arrived in India before December 2004 and never returned.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.
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