More Pakistani Hindus arrive in India, say they won't return
A fresh batch of Pakistani Hindus arrived in India Monday on board the Samjhauta Express, the peace train between India and Pakistan, and many of them said that they would not return given the atmosphere of fear prevailing where they live.
Talking to media persons after alighting from the train here, 30 km from Amritsar, members of six-seven families said they feared for their lives in Pakistan due to the pressure from Islamists who were forcing them to convert.
Immigration officials here said that over 30 Pakistani Hindus arrived by the train here Monday.
Mukesh Kumar Ahuja, a Pakistani Hindu, said: "Things are so bad for Hindus in Pakistan that we have decided that we will not return at all even though we have signed documents in Pakistan assuring authorities that we will return. We will request for asylum here. We have been forced to give up our established business there."
"Religious conversions is being forced, kidnappings, murders and beatings are frequent for Hindus and they are being harassed (by Islamists). There are at least 5,000 Hindu families who are waiting to move to India but the Pakistani authorities are holding them back," said a visibly-disturbed Ahuja, who lives in Baluchistan.
He said that one of his relatives, Ravi, was kidnapped recently and crores of rupees were sought in ransom. "When the ransom was not paid, they killed him," he said.
Others who arrived here Monday said that hundreds of Hindu families wanted to leave Pakistan and come to settle in India.
"Even though the Pakistan authorities have set up a commission for the Hindu families to stop their exodus, things are so bad that Hindus just want to leave Pakistan. When the Hindus take a visa for India and come to the border, they are being forced to sign documents promising to return to Pakistan," said another harried Pakistani Hindu, who did not wish to be identified.
"Our children are not safe there. Whenever they go out of the home, we fear for them," Suman Devi, who arrived Monday, said.
Another Pakistani Hindu, Pawan Kumar, said: "Though we have signed documents there that we will return, we will not do so. We fear for our lives there. The Pakistan authorities are only resorting to gimmicks (by assuring safety to Hindus there)."
Nearly 250 Pakistan Hindus had arrived in India through the Wagah-Attari land border check-post last week. They were allowed to enter India after being detained on the Pakistan side for several hours and only allowed to proceed after signing documents saying that they would return to Pakistan after their 33-day pilgrimage.
"We will return to Pakistan. We have given this assurance to authorities there," said Anup Kumar, who led the 250-member pilgrimage group to India.
About 10 families from Pakistan, who had arrived in the train here recently, are camping in Amritsar city and seeking asylum in India.
The Punjab Congress Monday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to address the plight of Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan.
Punjab Congress general secretary Arvind Khanna said Hindus and Sikhs are facing intimidation and forced conversion across Pakistan, particularly in the Sindh province.
He demanded that those who had reached India must be provided relief, shelter and asylum since they are scared to go back.
Khanna urged the central government to talk to the Pakistan government on the issue.