Victims Of Religious Persecution Urge Anti-CAA Protesters, Opposition To Stop Opposing Law And See Their Plight

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 24, 2019 08:02 PM +05:30 IST
Victims Of Religious Persecution Urge Anti-CAA Protesters, Opposition To Stop Opposing Law And See Their PlightHindu refugees from Pakistan (Representative Image) (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

When Taliban took over in Afghanistan, they shot a Sikh businessman's brother dead with a dozen bullets; when some Muslim men got upset at Indian sports star Virat Kohli's stellar performance in a cricket match once, they raped and killed a girl of a Kohli family in Pakistan. The victims of religious persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, now living as refugees in India, narrated agonising stories like these and more on Tuesday, while pleading the protesters across India to not oppose Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that grants them citizenship, identity and dignity.

The Act which came into effect on 12 December, this year, grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian community members who fled from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and took refuge in India by 31 December, 2014. Over 30,000 refugees living in India, fall under this specific category and will benefit from the Act.

Opposition and activists have called the law "communal" and "discriminatory" against Muslims in India. Many opposed to the law have been protesting, in many cases violently, across India. Over two dozen people have been killed in clashes with security forces. At many places, public property has been ransacked and burnt down by protesters.

At a dialogue with victims of 'atrocities of Pakistan' organised by refugee rights groups and parliamentarian Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, held at Constitution Club on Tuesday (24 December), many refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan, who have been living in several parts of India for decades, appealed to the opposition to empathise with their plight.

Holding her new born-baby, named 'Nagarikta' (citizenship) after CAA, Meera who lives along with hundreds of Hindu refugees from Pakistan in Delhi for last several years, recounted the injustices and persecution, the members of the minority community in Pakistan suffered. "We were treated as second class citizens in Pakistan. We had hoped that we will find a life of dignity in India but it has been a long struggle here because of the denial of citizenship. I beg the protesters not to oppose the CAA which will finally grant us our fundamental rights," she said with a lump in her throat.

Recalling the hardship he and his family faced on their arrival in India as refugees after they fled Afghanistan, Pyara Singh said, "Those protesting against CAA would not know my pain of having seen my brother shot dead by Taliban in Afghanistan. We used to have a good life and business until they took over. We paid 'jaziya' under them. Shias went to Iran, Sunnis went to Pakistan. Where were Sikhs and Hindus supposed to go if not India? We fled with nothing and we still have nothing. Those who are protesting do not have to worry about food, shelter and clothes. They do not know when I got here I did not even have Rs 100. We have been struggling for our survival here."

Threatening to run counter-protests if the protests against CAA did not end, Pyara Singh said, "We do not understand why they are opposed to our citizenship rights? Is it because we did not pelt stones and burn public property here in India? We will come to the streets if protests against us did not stop."

Dayal Das, who fled from Sindh in Pakistan in 2013, said the minority community in Pakistan was not even allowed to cremate their dead ones. "Muslim neighbours would say that cremation caused stink. We were not even allowed to drink tea in cups in hotels and restaurants. We were treated like animals and we lived like slaves. No one likes to leave his home but we chose to take refuge in India because we will escape humiliation and torment. It hurts to see people protesting against the law which will give us some respite from the struggle we have faced here as refugees," he said.

As was reported earlier, several other refugees have also come out in support of the new citizenship laws. They also shared the atrocities they had to face in their respective countries where the fled from.

Recently a video journalism team Know The Nation also interviewed persecuted Hindu refugees including small children who now dream of a new life made possible by CAA.

(With inputs from IANS)

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