State to protect illegal Pakistani Hindus

Deportation is not an option, says minister

State to protect illegal Pakistani Hindus
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan reporter, Bhopal, India

September 13, 2012

India will not deport at least 10,000 Pakistanis staying illegally in the country, according to the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state. The state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed a resolution yesterday to protect Hindu migrants who fled persecution and violence in neighboring Pakistan. The state government will take up the issue with the federal government and nobody would be sent back, said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. According to official figures, the state is home to more than 10,000 Pakistani Hindus whose visas are expired but who do not want to go back to their country. “Pakistani Hindus staying in the country should be given citizenship,” said Shankar Lalwani, Indore district president of the party. Outside Madhya Pradesh, there are another 35,000 Pakistani Hindus illegally staying in India, Lalwani said. The resolution says the attitude of Pakistan toward the minority community was not secular and incidents of kidnapping, looting, rape and forcible religious conversion against Hindus were routine. It also urges the federal government to allow those Hindus who stayed in Pakistan after the 1947 partition to come back to India if they desire. Earlier this month, 171 Pakistani Hindus reportedly arrived in India seeking refugee status. Yet while the BJP has been pressing for citizenship for Hindus, it has been silent on other religious communities such as Sikhs and Christians. Jerry Paul, who belongs to the opposition Congress Party, said that it is not only Hindus in Pakistan but also Christians and Sikhs who face threats and who should be allowed to become Indian citizens. “This has nothing to do with one religion,” he said. “It is a question of minorities living in Pakistan.” Some political observers suggested that the resolution is an effort by the BJP to court Hindu voters. Related reports Christians fearful as Hindu festival nears