In Jalandhar, Pak Hindus’ hopes soar

600 migrants eagerly await Indian citizenship

In Jalandhar, Pak Hindus’ hopes soar

Ajay Joshi

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 15

Amid the debate and protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, a large number of Hindus who migrated from Pakistan over the past three decades and are settled in the district have a reason to cheer.

After having suffered “religious persecution” for decades after the Partition, these Hindu migrants now hope to acquire Indian citizenship at the earliest. Having little connect with Pakistan now, these migrants settled in several residential areas of the city consider themselves to be Indians already. They, however, still possess Pakistani citizenship. They reportedly started entering India 1990 onwards on visitor’s visa and continue to live here by extending their visas.

There are more than 600 Pakistani Hindus in Jalandhar who are keen to get Indian citizenship.

They recently celebrated the passing of the Bill by getting together and cutting a cake. Falak Raj Bhagat (44) was 22 years old when he left Pakistan and entered India with 50 family members and friends.

After doing a few odd jobs for a couple of years, he finally considers himself settled here. He manufactures surgery equipment and sells them in local hospitals.

“During the Partition, some of our community members managed to escape Pakistan and enter India while many of us remained in Pakistan. Subsequently, we were being pressurised by other community members to get converted. We lived in constant fear until 1998, when we boarded a train to India and decided to settle here.

“However, life is still not easy as we are still residing here on visitor’s visa. Even after getting married and having kids, we have to extend our visa applications every year and every visa extension fee costs between Rs 2000 – Rs 3000,” he said.

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