2nd Oct : A family sits atop their belongings while escaping their flooded village in the Badin district of Pakistan’s Sindh province. REUTERS
ne hundred and fourteen people belonging to 19 Hindu families from flood-hit Sindh in Pakistan have reached India seeking asylum. They fled their homes after floods struck Sindh province and they were discriminated against during relief and rehabilitation operations. They are staying at Dera Baba Dhwani Das Ashram near Majnu Ka Teela in North Delhi and have requested the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs to extend their visas and give them refugee status.
An official from the Ministry of Home Affairs has refused to receive any requests for asylum from these Pakistanis.
Arjun Judeo from Sindh’s Matiari district said that almost all of the 114 people are relatives and are farm labourers. “We do not own any land. We till the village landlord’s land. But the floods have brought devastation to the whole province. Besides poor relief work, diseases like diarrhoea, dengue and malaria have broken out, making our lives miserable. So we decided to come to India to explore the chance of settling here,” said Judeo. “We got visa as pilgrims, but we have requested the Indian government to extend our visa and then consider our request for refugee status.”
Judeo was not keen on elaborating on the discrimination in flood relief efforts back home, fearing that his group would face a backlash in case they did not get refugee status in India and were forced to return to Pakistan soon.
Pakistani media reports say that the flood situation is so bad that some areas in Sindh will remain submerged for six months. Around six million people have been affected, and various diseases are stalking the flood affected population.
Human Rights Defense (India), a Delhi-based organisation which works for the rights of Pakistan’s Hindu population, says that Hindus coming to India from Pakistan is not a healthy trend and that they will convince them to return home. “A lot of migration has already happened. It’s not possible for the Indian government to provide asylum to so many people. Given a choice, all the Hindus in Pakistan, around three million, may want to come to India. But we will help them in whatever way we can,” said Rajesh Gogna, HRDI chairperson.
Source : http://www.sunday-guardian.com