Poor plight of Sindhi Hindus

Date: 24/12/2016. I just went through a news article which was about ‘Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh visiting Jodhpur and meeting Pakistani Hindu Migrants’[1]. Just while thinking about Pakistani Hindus, or if I say Sindhi Hindus, draws my attention to a very famous saying in Hindi: “Dhobi ka Kutta, na ghar ka, na ghaat ka” (Dog of washerman- neither belongs to his house, nor to his workplace). Plight of Sindhi Hindus is quite similar. They neither belong to Sindh (Pakistan), their birthplace (Janma-bhumi), nor to India.

In Pakistan, Sindh originally belongs to Sindhi Hindus and converted Sindhi Muslims. But it doesn’t hold true anymore. Sindhi Hindus, who are generally more affluent and wealthy than their counterpart Sindhi Muslims are directly or indirectly forced to leave the country, as the country belongs to Pak (Clean) Muslims. Those of my Muslim and/or Pakistani friends, not believing me, can see the Example of ‘Rinkal Kumari’, a forcibly converted girl, whose case could not be solved even by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan[3].

Most of Hindus are not interested in leaving their Homeland. They love their homeland very much. In fact, every Sindhi loves Sindh, even if his/her parents have migrated long ago and he/she was born in India. Muslim Sindhis are emotionally blackmailed in the name of the religion. So, they do not support their language-brothers. In fact, Sindhi Muslims are used for conversion. Big dramatic road-shows are part of culture of Upper Sindh, when a Muslim guy directly or indirectly catches a girl and marries her after converting her. “Islam Zindabad” is a common phrase in those road-shows. There are financial as well non-financial rewards for the guy and his family. Surely, many of the cases must have little or more attraction (I won’t call it ‘love’); but why do the girl has to change her religion? Why she has to leave her parents forever? Why?

Traditionally, Sindh had no relation with extremism. Partition saw much less causality on this part of the border than the other one. That’s why many Hindus were left in Sindh but a few thousands in Punjab. But now, many things are being tried to change this scenario. Since the days of Zia-ul-Haq kids in the school are taught hatred against other religions, specially the Hindus. Still some books of school contain sentences such as “Hindu Hamare Dushman Hain” (Hindus are our enemies). These are not my words, but words of a very famous Pakistani TV opinion-maker and an ex-chairman of PCB. As a father, every Hindu is little afraid to send his kids to school, today!

Its effects are now seen into elders who have studied these books. If you are a Non-Muslim, many would like to discuss religion with you. They want to show you that their religion is supreme and all others, just not worth it! And you need to take care while defending your religion. If, by mistake, you criticize anything about their Religion, you can be in great trouble! They are very emotional and can’t hear any negative point of their religion.

Lots of funds are coming for Madrassahs in those regions in Sindh, which are still somehow saved from extremism. What’s the purpose? “To teach young minds about religious extremism!” They are trying to convert my pure Sindh into a factory of extremism. It’s very painful. Why do they forget that religion is made for man and not vice-versa?

Best position of any Sindhi Hindu living in Pakistan can be understood from an article written by a top police official of Sindh Police, if you know Sindhi[2]. There are off course some people like him, who supports their cause. I must mention name of Asad Chandio, a Sindhi columnist, who is trying all he can, to give justice to Sindhi Hindus.

What’s the option now for Hindus? Many are thinking about to cross the border and go to the other side. But mind you, there is no ‘Bed of Roses’ on the other side. India is not a Hindu country. It’s a secular country. So, there aren’t any special privileges for Hindus coming from Sindh.

There are too many Visa issues for Pakistani nationals. The problem starts with sponsorship certificate. One might have many relatives in India, who would be ready to sponsor his/her stay in India, but the sponsorship certificate has to be verified by a class II government officer, who also must attach his self-certified service card with the certificate, also taking responsibility of the Indian sponsor. Firstly, many poor people can’t find any officer who knows them. Secondly, even if some-one is little bit influential, officer will not be ready to sign or even if he is ready to sign, he will be hesitant to give his ID, because the certificate is for a person who belongs to a country called “Pakistan” (I must add here that you will rarely find Sindhi Hindus involved in criminal activities). Even if you are able to get the ID, problem doesn’t end here. When, after filing for Visa documents, Indian Embassy asks for the inquiry of sponsor to respective local police station, another headache starts. Police officer asks the signing government officer to come to the police station, as if he has done some crime by verifying the sponsor. The certifying officer is often asked irrelevant questions like- “Do you know this Pakistani person coming here?”

So, there are very few Visit Visas for Pakistanis. Easier method to come to India is via “Group Pilgrimage Visa”, but that is non-extendable and can’t be converted to LTV (Long Term Visa; may also be called Resident Visa for Permanent Stay in India). Also, India doesn’t have a policy of Refugee Visa.

Even if you get the required Visa, problem doesn’t end there. After reaching your destination, police reporting is required within 24 hours. This reporting often takes 2-3 days due to some or the other reason. After coming to India you need to apply for LTV, if you want to settle permanently in India. Granting of LTV takes months and years on the trot. I have seen people waiting for LTV for more than 5 years.

Indian Visa is only for the city, where you want your permanent stay. If you want to go to any other city, you will have to take ‘Visa for Additional Place’. One of my friends who has applied for an additional place in February or March 2014, is still waiting for approval. 2.5 years are not too many, isn’t it? What if you want to work in some other city? There is some informal leniency to visit other cities though, specially after one is granted LTV; because, practically it is not possible to stay in a small town and do all your work from there.

Now, you have applied for Visa and you have found some work. FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) doesn’t permit any Pakistani National to buy a property in India without taking prior permission of RBI. RBI doesn’t give easy permissions. So, no one cares to take the permission. In fact, very few people know that they need the permission. Also, for opening a bank account you need permission of RBI. I would just laugh at that! No one bothers about that too. Every one follows easier methods. ‘Show yourself as an Indian to the banker’. Banker doesn’t mind that, even if he personally knows you. However, he will profoundly reject your request to open an account, if you give him your Pakistani Passport. One of my friends approached a bank for opening an account; the banker replied that They didn’t open accounts of Pakistani Nationals and asked him to bring an Indian ID, if you had one! One cannot survive if one goes by the laws. Everyone knows these facts, but following them to the point is almost impossible. There is of course, informal leniency towards Hindus, without which it would have been impossible for them to survive in India.

No doubt situation has improved since current Indian PM has taken the seat. He has promised many things for Pakistani minority refugees but problem is still there at the bureaucratic level. And I must add that issues that I mentioned earlier are just a few examples of the Visa related issues. Many people are waiting for their citizenship even after 20 years of living in India.

Due to many such hurdles, many people migrate back to Pakistan, thinking, “At least, we are in our Janmabhumi, near our relatives and old friends!”

I would like to end this article with this:

“I do not belong to Hindu religion; I just belong to the greatest and most ancient surviving civilization, i.e. Hinduism (Sindhu/Hindu words are interchangeable as per few people). I just don’t need any religion to be forced upon me. For that I am leaving my homeland, my Sindh. But, there is no place for me anywhere else, where I can be my own and remain a part of this civilization and its culture. What shall I do?”

Alas! There is no country for followers of this civilization in the whole world.

References:

[1] http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/action-plan-for-pak-hindu-migrants-soon-rajnath-singh/article1-1276078.aspx

[2] http://www.thekawish.com/beta/epaper-details.php?details=2014/Oct/23-10-2014/Page2/P2-27.jpg (Daily Kawish Sindhi 23/10/2014)

[3] https://hindusofsindh.wordpress.com/tag/asad-chandio/

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