Around 450 to 500 Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs live in different colonies of Chheherata area of Amritsar. They have been living here for the last several years, mostly on extended residential permits. Every year a few families from Pakistan arrive here and add to their number.
All India Hindu Shiv Sena president Surinder Kumar Billa who led the delegation told TOI that these families had left Pakistan fearing torture, extortion and forceful conversions at the hands of Islamists and didn’t want to return to Pakistan.
Naranjit Kaur who had migrated to Amritsar about fourteen years ago said, “Freedom for girls is a far fetched dream in Pakistan especially in areas like Peshawer. I couldn’t stay there. However, as Pakistani nationals we have to go there once in every five years to get our passports renewed and every second year to Delhi for getting our residential permit extended.” “There is always a fear while going back to Pakistan,” she added.
Unlike Naranjit Kaur, most Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs preferred not to speak on record against the fundamentalists in Pakistan fearing backlash when they return to Pakistan for renewal of their passports and against their relatives who are still living there.
Naam Singh, a migrant from Khyber Agency in Pakistan, said that due to their Pakistani nationality, the migrant community members were being discriminated against. “We are seen with suspicion when our children apply for jobs in private sector or for admission in schools,” he added. Naam Singh who does a petty sales job said that people like him couldn’t afford to visit Delhi for the extension of the residential permit. ” Indian government can end our miseries by accepting us and giving us Indian nationality,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Pannu said that he had recommended the state government to grant Indian citizenship to Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs living in Amritsar.