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India: Hindu Pakistanis take refuge in India - at what cost?

Saturday 21 December 2013, by siawi3

NEW DELHI, December 21, 2013
Our hopes were dashed, say Pakistani Hindus


Madhur Tankha

Hindus from Pakistan demonstrating at Jantar Mantar on Friday.— Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.

Twenty-nine Hindus from Pakistan’s Sindh province are demonstrating at Jantar Mantar here to demand that the Indian Government instruct Customs officials at Munabao in Rajasthan to return the jewellery that was taken away from them when they entered the country.

The group claims to have entered India legally on October 5 in search of a better future but the Customs officials asked them to hand over the jewellery they were carrying.

According to Panju Mal, who sold his farm in Pakistan’s Hyderabad and bought jewellery from the proceeds, they entered India with the hope that they would be accepted.

“But all our hopes were dashed when the Customs officials insisted that the women remove their jewellery. They told us that jewellery was taxable. Since we did not have Rs. 5 lakh to pay we had to leave them there. Today is our fourth day at Jantar Mantar,†he told The Hindu .

The group approached a local police station to file an FIR. “But only four women had the FIR filed and not all eight women whose jewellery is with the officials. The FIR is in Hindi, which we cannot read. We were given phone numbers which nobody answers. Our month-long tourist visa has expired and we have no money,†he said.

There are a total of 114 Hindus, including 50 children and 30 women, from Sindh demonstrating at Jantar Mantar.

Parthi, who studied Humanities in Hyderabad, said the bleak job prospects for Hindus in Pakistan are responsible for their flight to India. “We have no future there.â€

Like many others, Narain Das sold off his shop and used the money earned from it to buy jewellery. “Now our condition has become similar to that of beggars. We do not have a house to live and the women and children are braving the inclement cold weather of Delhi.†A burly man, Khemchand was a commission agent at a Karachi vegetable market but is now living hand to mouth. “But we are happy to be in India. The truth is that majority of Hindus in Pakistan want to come here, but only a limited number get visas.â€