About 100 Pakistani Hindu families crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border on Monday (Feb 3), Indian officials said amid indications that several travelers did not wish to go back.
At a time India is witnessing widespread protest demonstrations over the new law which aims to grant citizenship to six minority communities (Hindus) of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, nearly 100 Pakistani Hindu families, which crossed the Attari-Wagah border, are seeking refuge in India fearing religious persecution in the neighboring nation, according to India Blooms News Service.
The Pakistani Hindus came on a visitor visa but some of them claimed that they felt unsafe in Pakistan and hoped to get India citizenship after the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Some of the immigrants were quoted as saying that they have come to visit Haridwar and have been given a visa to perform the last rites of their relatives.
According to India Today, around 200 families have crossed the border this year till now.
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who met these Pakistani immigrants, said that these people have been compelled to leave their country in order to save their religion.
"The committee had informed the Indian government about the religious persecution of the Hindu-Sikh minorities in Pakistan. We will soon meet Home Minister Amit Shah and will request the government to grant citizenship to these immigrants," Manjinder Singh Sirsa said.
The current migration is because of Prime Minnister Narendra Modi's open appeals to Hindu identity in India stripping the country of the secular framework it was founded on to give supremacy to their religion, according to New York Times.
Since Modi's election victory, Pakistani Hindus say they have had an easier time obtaining religious or pilgrimage visas to India, which they can then convert to long-term visas if they seek Indian citizenship.
Though the exact number of Hindu migrants is hard to pin down, indications of a wider push to go to India can be seen in the numbers of those long-term visas. In 2018, the Indian government granted 12,732 long-term visas, compared with 4,712 in 2017, and 2,298 in 2016, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. About 95 percent of long-term visas are granted to Pakistani Hindus, officials say.
Tellingly, Muslims of Pakistan and event Americans of Pakistani original face difficulty in getting visa for India.
Seattle City Council denounces CAA
Surprisingly, the Seattle City Council, one of the most powerful city councils in the U.S., on Monday unanimously passed a resolution condemning India's recently-enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Expressing solidarity with the city's South Asian community the resolution "resolves that the Seattle City Council opposes the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, and finds these policies to be discriminatory to Muslims, oppressed castes, women, indigenous, and LGBT people".
Introduced by Indian American City Council member Kshama Sawant, the resolution urges the Parliament of India to uphold the Indian Constitution by repealing the CAA, and to stop the National Register of Citizens, and take steps towards helping refugees by ratifying various UN treaties on refugees.
"Seattle City's decision to condemn CAA should be a message to all who wish to undermine pluralism and religious freedom. They cannot peddle in hate and bigotry, and expect to have international acceptability at the same time," said Ahsan Khan, president of Indian American Muslim Council.