Why Pakistani Hindus leave their homes for India

Published: October 29, 2015
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About 1,200 people, who have migrated from Pakistan in the past five years, are housed in three camps in Delhi. PHOTO: BBC

About 1,200 people, who have migrated from Pakistan in the past five years, are housed in three camps in Delhi. PHOTO: BBC

Over the past five years, about 1,200 Pakistani Hindus have traveled from Pakistan to India in order to escape discrimination and religious persecution.

Many of those who fled Pakistan, are housed in three camps in New Delhi and many say one of the biggest problems they faced back home was that they were unable to educate their children.

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At 16, Mala Das can just about write her name which has so far been her greatest achievement. “When I came here I was completely unlettered. Today I can write my name,” she said.

There is a primary school in the migrant camp where children are taught how to read and write

When questioned about which year she arrived to India, Mala remains unsure. Her family and neighbours say they arrived in India in 2011 from Pakistan’s Hyderabad to escape “religious and cultural persecution and government apathy.”

However, in India, she says she is happy to see that Hindus in India can practice their religion openly. “Here Hindus pray without fear in temples and organise religious festivals outdoor. In Pakistan we prayed at home. If we went to temples, we avoided the gaze of our neighbours.”

Just three weeks ago, Bhagwan Das arrived in Delhi and was among 71 people who were treated like “second-class citizens” in Pakistan. He has two growing children with no formal education.

Bhagwan Das says Hindus are treated like “second-class citizens” in Pakistan

“Our children don’t feel welcome in schools there. Muslims taunt us for being Hindu. Our girls are also sexually harassed,” Das told BBC. There is now a primary school in the migrant camp where children are taught how to read and write.

Rajwanti, 13, and other children in the camp recall how Hindu boys and girls were made to read the Holy Quran in Pakistani schools and Muslim students allegedly laughed at their religious practices.

An Indian in Pakistan

“We have full religious freedom here. We are free,” says Ishwar Lal, 18, who went to Delhi five months ago, adding that in India, “everyone is respectful of each other’s faith”.

Rajwanti, 13, alleges that Hindu boys and girls are made to read the Quran in Pakistani schools

Today, Muslims constitute 14% of India’s population, while in Pakistan, Hindus are said to be just over 2%.

Although there is no official estimate of the number of Pakistani Hindus living in India, over the years, small groups have been crossing the border to reach Delhi or other northern states, including Rajasthan and Haryana. Once in India, they apply for asylum and, eventually, citizenship.

Those living in the Delhi camps say they are yet to get Indian citizenship

The Indian government revealed to BBC that more than 1,400 Pakistanis have been given citizenship since 2011, of which an overwhelming majority are Hindus. Those living in Delhi camps, however, say they are yet to get Indian citizenship.

On the contrary, Arjun Das, who is regarded as the leader of Pakistani Hindus in Delhi camps, said that they feel frustrated. “We applied in 2011 but nothing has happened. The BJP government which claims to have sympathy for us is no different from other governments,” he said.

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Pahlaj, who arrived three weeks ago, said he is disappointed that “no Hindu leader or neighbour has visited us yet”. But most say they are happy to be in India where they feel “at home” and Pahlaj says most Pakistani Hindus want to leave the country.

Pahlaj says most Pakistani Hindus want to leave their country

“A small number has come to India. Millions of Pakistani Hindus are waiting for an opportunity to do the same,” he concludes.

This article originally appeared on BBC.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • ajeet
    Oct 29, 2015 - 4:17PM

    Other religions should demand reciprocity from Muslims and treat Muslims the same as Muslims treat their minorities.Recommend

  • Debilitator
    Oct 29, 2015 - 4:35PM

    Good, migrants could be exchanged with Muslims from india. I am sure they’ll be able to feel more at home here and yes they’ll get beef too.Recommend

  • Proud Indian
    Oct 29, 2015 - 4:39PM

    Secular India should be proud to have more than 20 million minorities.

    Except few odd incidents, minorities live peacefully in India since ages. Had they been mistreated, they would have all flocked to pakistan for shelter by now.Recommend

  • kartikey
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:16PM

    That ‘s what I want to suggest pakis Why 1000s of Hindus are coming every years because of pakistan is muslim country They Non-muslim can’t leave in a Jehadi country. Recommend

  • kartikey
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:25PM

    I urged to all Hindus from Pakistan Pls come back to their motherland India . A Islamic country can’t be a motherland of Hindus despite that Hinduism had grown in that region.
    one days all Hindus will be given citizenship like 50 lakes Bengali Muslims & Hindus have. so don’t worry about citizenship its a minor thing the main thing is life. Recommend

  • Alam
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:51PM

    I am yet to see a muslim going to pakistan after persecution….afterall its the land of pure and thekedaar of ummah……Recommend

  • Alien1
    Oct 29, 2015 - 5:51PM

    …and pakistani muslims behave as if they are the most saintly people of all. other minorities in pakistan should also move out of pakistan.Recommend

  • sunny
    Oct 29, 2015 - 6:51PM

    Many Indian NGO’s working secretly in Pakistan brain washes Hindus in Pakistan and forced them to migrate to India for a better future. According to my hindu maths professor in college,
    “Indian NGO’s ask us to leave Pakistan for India. The purpose of this is to defame Pakistan’s respect and love towards minorities. We all know caste system in India. We are happy in Pakistan. ”
    I am proud of Pakistan which is a home of millions of minorities. I am a proud Pakistani. Recommend

  • someone
    Oct 29, 2015 - 6:54PM

    @Debilitator:
    Try it and let’s see how many Muslims of India move to Pakistan. I bet it would be a grand embarrassment to Pakistan.Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Oct 29, 2015 - 7:01PM

    Pakistani Muslims react strongly for any incident of religious conflict or even a small altercation involving minorities of india.They sweep the systematic cleansing of their minorities under the carpet.Look at the dwindling numbers of their minorities. How many Indian Muslims applied for Pakistani citizenship to escape religious persecution?Recommend

  • An Indian
    Oct 29, 2015 - 7:25PM

    Welcome to all these true Indians. Indian government should cancel Haj subsidies and use that money to provide them help them good education for their children and jobs.Recommend

  • An Indian
    Oct 29, 2015 - 7:30PM

    @Debilitator:
    Kindly take all Indian Muslims if they want to go to Pakistan. In exchange, please give us the Pakistani Hindus who want to migrate to India. Those people are our responsibility.Recommend

  • Desi
    Oct 29, 2015 - 8:02PM

    If situation for hindus in Pakistan isnt improved then pakistani muslims are to be blamed for indian muslims deteriorating condition.Recommend

  • Girish
    Oct 29, 2015 - 8:09PM

    2% is a wrong number. its actually 1.85% as per 1998 Pakistan census (17 years ago). It was 15% (West Pakistan) at the time of first Pakistan census in 1951. Only God would know what the situation is today. I am not expecting anything good.
    Contrast this with Muslim population in India. It was around 13% at independence and its nearly 14% in the latest census.
    Pakistanis shout out aloud at beef ban ( which I also thing is worth being condemned). They have this eternal victim tone. but when it comes to meeting the reality they are no where to be found.Recommend

  • pk
    Oct 29, 2015 - 9:09PM

    One thing I always wonder and missed from discussion that why persecuted Hindus in Pakistan not resorted to rebel and raised Hindu terrorist organisation which Muslims always do in literally every country for perceived persecution.Recommend

  • Shetty
    Oct 29, 2015 - 9:33PM

    @pk Well said bro..Recommend

  • HZR
    Oct 29, 2015 - 10:17PM

    @sunny:

    Why not these NGO’s openly work in India and brain wash muslims to leave to Pakistan?Recommend

  • Debilitator
    Oct 29, 2015 - 10:51PM

    @someone for beef i am willing to shift to mars evenRecommend

  • PrakashG
    Oct 29, 2015 - 11:13PM

    Why would anyone want to leave the big-hearted Pakistanis and come live amongst us small-hearted Indians?Recommend

  • True
    Oct 30, 2015 - 12:04AM

    @sunny:
    Indian NGO’s working secretly in Pakistan“. I don’t think one can say anything after that. That speaks of brain dead people. Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 30, 2015 - 12:21AM

    Typical behaviour of a land where Muslims become majority. Look at Lebanon.Recommend

  • Abdullah khan
    Oct 30, 2015 - 12:49AM

    In sindh majority of Hindues are living ، majority of educated Hindues are in Education department employs as primary teachers, secondary school teachers and even professors in Universities specially in rural sindh and spreading hatred among Sindhies against pakistan. It will be better for pakistan to send them to india to teach the refugees Hindues of Pakistan Recommend

  • Yusafzai
    Oct 30, 2015 - 12:49AM

    This reflects badly on Muslims, since the rights of minorities are placed at the highest level by Islam.
    We Muslims should learn about the first Muslim Government formed in Medina and the rights and protections given to the Jews of Medina. Also read about the rights and protectiosn awarded to Christians and Jews of Sham when it was conquered by Muslims in the time of second Caliph.Recommend

  • Skywalker
    Oct 30, 2015 - 2:34AM

    @True:
    Please prove that Indian NGOs are there.

    @Author/ET Please publish the names of NGOs so that we can bring such organizations in open.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Oct 30, 2015 - 4:51AM

    What would be of more interest to me is to see muslims in India and muslims from India and Pakistan who who have moved to countries like USA, UK, Canada, etc. posting their comments here. I can understand the muslims in Pakistan because they are the perpetrators and will only keep calling Modi all sorts of names, like butcher of Gujarat, killer of muslims etc. The muslims in India and muslims from India and Pakistan who have moved to the West are supporting this with their silence. In this era of internet, interactive news and social media, what anyone says is heard and equally importantly, when they do not speak out, their silence is heard more loud and clear. Recommend

  • ajeet
    Oct 30, 2015 - 5:42AM

    Hindus should rebel instead of running away from Pakistan as its god given land and should not allow invaders to take it away.Recommend

  • vinsin
    Oct 30, 2015 - 5:52AM

    By Liaquat Nehru Pact if no Hindus left in Pakistan then there should be no Muslims. Why Pakistan expect Hindus to take burden of Indian Muslims when they failed to do the same to their Hindus? Recommend

  • Weirdity
    Oct 30, 2015 - 6:19AM

    Yes. Why? Nobody knows.Recommend

  • Another Indian
    Oct 30, 2015 - 6:49AM

    @Sunny..Many Indian NGO’s working secretly in Pakistan brain washes Hindus in Pakistan and forced them to migrate to India for a better future. According to my hindu maths professor in college,
    “Indian NGO’s ask us to leave Pakistan for India. The purpose of this is to defame Pakistan’s respect and love towards minorities. We all know caste system in India. We are happy in Pakistan. ”

    Totally believable story man…Recommend

  • Bangalorean
    Oct 30, 2015 - 5:23PM

    Very surprised to see this article at The Tribune.. Acceptance to problem is greater courageous step than solving the problem itself.. We have to create a world of people with free will and free thoughts and that too without borders.. Recommend

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