Hindu refugees from Pakistan
Hindu refugees from Pakistan

No one's voters, Pakistani Hindu refugees yearn to vote

ANI | Updated: Jul 24, 2018 16:27 IST

Jaisalmer (Rajasthan) [India], July 24 (ANI): Moru Ram was born in Pakistan and lived there until 2007 when he fled to India, fearing persecution of Hindu minorities.
He is one of the 10,000 Pakistani Hindu refugees living at Bhil Basti- a dustbowl in the courtyard of simmering Thar in Jaisalmer.
As Pakistan goes to polls on Wednesday, Moru Ram, wouldn't be able to cast vote in the country where he was born, raised and holds the passport of.
The catch, however, is- he can't vote in India either, even as his heart and soul belong to India now.
Moru Ram, like 20,000 other Pakistani refugees settled in Rajasthan, is no one's citizen, who struggles for an identity.
"I appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant us citizenship so that we can take part in voting," he told ANI.
And there is no going back for Moru Ram and thousands like him. Pakistan has been a haven of extremists, which bay for the blood of minorities, leave alone Hindus and Christians, even Shias, Ahmadiyas and Hazaras are not safe.
The very thought of living under the fangs of dreaded terror organisations like Tehreek-e-Taliban, Jamat-Ud-Dawa amog others, sends a shiver down the spine of these migrants.
Farhanaz Ispahani was a media advisor to Asif Ali Zardari, the president of Pakistan between 2008 and 2013. In in her book, Purifying the Land of the Pure: A History of Pakistan's Religious Minorities, Ispahani refers to diminishing minorities in her country  as 'drip drip genocide.'
Little surprise then, going back is a forgone option for these Hindus.
In December 2016, the Narendra Modi government recognised the special nature of religious minorities, especially Hindus and Sikhs fleeing from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Taking a further leap, the government authorised district collectors to issue citizenship certificates to such refugees fleeing religious persecution.
This meant, providing these refugees with basic rights of citizenship by issuing Aadhar cards and voter ID cards.
Nathu Ram Bhil is lucky. He escaped the atrocities on Hindus in Pakistan in 1990 and fled to India. He has now a migrant-turned-citizen.
"If that (citizenship to other refugees) is granted soon and they are registered as voters, they will be able to choose their own leaders freely. Another problem is that they are asked for an Aadhar card during admission process of children," Bhil said.
The sun is setting and the shanties at Bhil Basti are abuzz with the cries of children. State assembly elections in Rajasthan are slated for later this year. Moru Ram and many like him, look at the sun touching down, hoping that, one day, they too will be able to be a part of what India is- world's largest democracy. (ANI)

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