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    » 08/17/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN - INDIA

    Persecuted in Pakistan, Hindu and Christian minorities find little protection in India

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Hindu families are fleeing Pakistan fearing for their daughters kidnapped and forcibly converted and married to Muslims. Christian minorities suffer the same violence. In India there is a law for refugees and Hindus who have fled wait for decades for Indian citizenship. The Hindu nationalist party seeks protection only for Hindus. "Christians are doubly discriminated against." Policy towards minorities throughout South Asia urgently needed.

    New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The news of the flight of several Hindu families from Pakistan, because of religious persecution, has shaken the political world in Delhi and Islamabad. Christian personalities remind us that Christians are subjected to the same sort of Hindus and demand that India and Pakistan operate to ensure dignity and rights to non-Islamic minorities.

    On 13 August at least 250 people - all Hindu family groups - crossed the Wagah border between India Pakistan, recounting that they had "been through hell", marginalization and torture and asking for assylum.

    In order to understand their situation, AsiaNews contacted Fr. James Channan, from the Dominican the Peace Center in Lahore (Pakistan). "The Hindu and the Christian community - he says - suffer the same problems at the hands of Muslims, especially the radical Islamists. Young Hindu and Christian girls and even teenagers are kidnapped by Muslims. The terrible thing is that when they are found, the Muslims say they have become Muslim and are married. Thus, their relatives - mothers and sisters - tcan not even touch or come in contact with them. It is forced conversion and is really a shameful act. " Last year at least 20 girls were abducted, converted and married by force.

    "The news of the exodus of 150 Hindu families to India - he continues - is a wake-up call. Following this, President Asif Ali Zardari has launched a committee to study the problem and the situation of non-Muslims in Pakistan. The governor of the province of Sindh has formed a committee to produce a law in defense of minorities and should get it approved by the Assembly. Similar legislation will be presented to the National Assembly. It should protect non-Muslim minorities from forced marriages and conversions to Islam , bringing a small amount of relief to the poor, disadvantaged, persecuted minorities in Pakistan. "

    "Hindus and Christians in Pakistan - about 7 million out of a population of 180 million - are committed and loyal citizens of Pakistan and contribute to the better development of the country."

    The problem of minorities in India

    The arrival of Hindu families from Pakistan is creating problems in India. In fact, in the best cases, the families who fled remain in India as illegal immigrants, since the country does not have a national law for refugees. All arrivals come from neighboring nations depending on the situation. Thousands of Hindu Pakistanis that have sought refuge in India in recent decades have not yet received Indian citizenship. Hindus fleeing Pakistan apply for a visa for pilgrimage or for family reasons and then disappear into anonymity.

    The arrival of 250 Pakistani Hindus has led some parliamentary nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the BJD (Biju Janata Dal) to ask that Hindu refugees be granted permanent visas. "If persecuted Hindus do not find refuge in India, where they will go?" asked Prakash Javadekar, BJP spokesperson.

    This proposal could result in a new discrimination: that of Christians. Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), outlined injustice present in the BJP proposal to AsiaNews: "The Christian community in Pakistan is also persecuted because of its religious identity and should not be discriminated against by neighboring countries, who promote and defend only Hindu ideology. "

    For Sajan George, "India must offer protection to all minorities in Pakistan and South Asia and promote dignity, tolerance, minority rights for peace and harmony in the region."

    According to the president of the GCIC, "India is an emerging power and should formulate a policy towards minorities in South Asia, our country - the only secular constitution in the region - should address the issue of minority rights in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). "

     

     

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    See also

    25/08/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: Muslims kidnap 14 year old Christian to convert her to Islam
    Mehek Masih was taken from her home in broad daylight and under the threat of a gun. Muslim man intends to "purify her" making her "Muslim and my mistress." Archbishop Saldanha cases of this type are "frequent," the law does not protect minorities. One of the many "crosses" that Pakistani Christians have to endure.

    25/07/2011 PAKISTAN
    The drama of Farah Hatim, common to many women in Pakistan
    A 24 year old Christian kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper. In court later she says it was voluntarily, to protect her family. Hundreds of similar cases occur every year in Pakistan, denounced by the commission for Justice and Peace.

    08/04/2009 INDIA
    Thousands converting back to Hinduism: truth, or propaganda?
    In Kalyan, in Maharashtra, Hindus are celebrating the "reconversion" of 1,130 families. The guru Narendra Maharaj urges the faithful not to be corrupted by the Christian missionaries, and calls on them to vote for the parties that defend the Hindu community. Bishop Fernandez: Christians must continue to spread the message of love, and the values of the Gospel.

    19/03/2009 INDIA
    Radical Hindu leader killed. Tension in Orissa
    Prabhat Panigrahi had been arrested for involvement in the attacks against Christians. In the district of Kandhamal, there are fears of a new wave of violence. Meanwhile, Christians are being marginalized: they may return to their villages only if they convert to Hinduism.

    11/08/2012 PAKISTAN
    Remembering Benazir Bhutto and Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan celebrates minorities
    On 11 August, the 65th anniversary of the historic Ali Jinnah's speech to the Assembly, is the day dedicated to non-Muslims. Minister Paul Bhatti: "We are part of one nation" and the goal is to create "a prosperous and united Pakistan." Minorities’ integration in the political and social landscape of the country.



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