Some 200 Pakistani Hindus crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border on Monday, officials said amid indications that several travellers did not wish to go back. The Pakistani Hindus came on visitor visa, but some of them claimed that they felt unsafe in Pakistan and hoped to get Indian citizenship.
Akali leader and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa was at the border to receive four families, who he claimed had “fled” Pakistan due to religious persecution.
He said he would meet Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday and request him to grant them Indian citizenship. “4 Hindu-Sikh families have fled Pakistan to save their life and religious faith. I recvd the family members today at border. We are meeting HM @AmitShah Ji tomo to request him to grant them citizenship at the earliest possible,” Mr Sirsa tweeted.
Borders official said the number of Hindu travellers from Pakistani using this border crossing has increased significantly over the past month.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act seeks to give Indian nationality to non-Muslim minorities who are persecuted in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Most of the travellers crossing over to India on Monday belonged to Sindh and Karachi areas. Some of them carried luggage and said they will seek asylum in India. One of the Pakistani Hindus, who asked not to be named, said that Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan and Afghanistan were “optimistic” of getting Indian citizenship. Most of them were travelling to Rajasthan to meet their relatives, they said.
“We are not feeling safe in Pakistan. Our girls feel insecure as they fear that they could be kidnapped any time by hardliners while police watch as spectators. Our girls cannot walk freely in the north-west area of Pakistan,” said a woman.
Two more women, without disclosing their names, told reporters that kidnapping of Hindu girls had become a routine affair in Pakistan and no family dared to file a complaint with the police.