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171 Hindus arrive from Pak seeking refugee status

September 09, 2012 20:15 IST

A batch of 171 Hindus on Sunday arrived in Jodhpur from Pakistan after a three-month long arduous journey with leader of the group saying they were seeking a refugee status in India for the sake of 'self respect', religious freedom and children's future.

They have been accommodated temporarily in a temple campus until proper arrangements are made.

"We have intimated the chief minister about this, who was in Jodhpur today and expect him to direct the administration to make some arrangements for them," said Singh Sodha, president of Seemant Lok Sangthan, an organisation fighting for the rehabilitation of Hindu migrants.

"The exodus of Hindus from Pakistan on account of religious, financial and social persecution, is not a new phenomenon but this largest ever migration after the fencing on the Indo-Pak border, is a testimony that the conditions for the Hindu families in Pakistan continue to be intolerable and humiliating," said Sodha.

The group is led by Chetan Ram, who has been a sarpanch of his village.

All of them have come incognito, not disclosing about their departure even to their relatives. "If the news that we were planning or preparing to leave for India had spread, the masters, whom we serve, would have made it difficult or almost impossible for us to leave Pakistan driven by a fear that they will lose the labourers," said Chetan.

So as a strategy, all these families left their houses about 3 months back and kept changing their locations so as to do away with any suspicion to our masters or landlords.

"And on Friday, we left for India leaving all our belongings back in Pakistan," Chetan said. Talking about the desperation to leave Pakistan, Chetan said,"We were daily wager there and would do the same here but this is for the sake of our self respect, religious freedom and children's future, that made us take such an extreme."

"Had anybody knew about the exodus, we would not have been able to leave ever and our lives would have become virtually a hell," Chetan said.

"All of them have come on pilgrim visa as the open visa has virtually been denied to them, according to which, they are supposed to go back but none of them has come to go back," said Sodha.

He said, "We strongly demand a refugee policy for them from the government as in past 2 months about 350 migrants have come to Jodhpur, who are an addition to already existing 1.20 lakh migrants in Rajasthan."

"In the time to come, this number is set to increase further and this is high time that government take some serious stand on the issue to ensure these poor peoples' future here," said Sodha.
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