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Religious persecution: Pakistan’s Sikh ex-lawmaker seeks asylum in India, says Army and ISI dictate Imran Khan

Targetting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Baldev Kumar said Imran Khan has failed to protect his people especially the minorities. He also alleged that the Pakistani Army and ISI dictate Imran Khan.

A former MLA belonging to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is attempting to seek asylum in India over atrocities on minorities in Pakistan, as per reports.

Not only minorities but even Muslims aren’t safe in Pakistan, he said. “We are surviving in Pakistan with a lot of difficulties. I want Modi Sahab do something for them. They are tortured there,” he said on religious persecution of minorities in Pakistan.

According to the reports, 43-year-old Baldev Kumar is a former MLA from Pakistan’s Barikot reserved seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Kumar said he wants political asylum in India as minorities are being persecuted in Pakistan.

Baldev Kumar is presently in India on a three-month visa. A few months before he arrived in India on August 12, Baldev Kumar had sent his wife and their two children to their relatives in Ludhiana’s Khanna. Kumar said that he was forced to move his family out of Pakistan as religious minorities were being persecuted in the country.

Baldev Kumar is currently residing with his family in a two-room rented house in Model Town on Samrala Marg, Khanna in Ludhiana. Baldev Kumar married Bhavna, a resident of Khanna in Punjab, in 2007. He was a councillor in Pakistan at the time of marriage and later became an MLA.

Kumar’s wife Bhavna is still an Indian citizen. However, their two children, 11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, are Pakistani nationals. Kumar said he fears going back to Pakistan. He said he will formally seek political asylum in India as he fears for his family’s safety.

Targetting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Baldev Kumar said Imran Khan has failed to protect his people especially the minorities. He also alleged that the Pakistani Army and ISI dictate Imran Khan.

Kumar said a large scale of religious persecutions by state and non-state agencies continues to take place in Pakistan. He added that people had high hopes when Imran Khan came to power in 2018, but he failed. Baldev Kumar added that Imran Khan had promised that he would build a new Pakistan but the promise remains unmet.

“You made certain promises to minorities and gained their votes. Now the time has come to fulfil those promises. Don’t let atrocities happen against Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan,” said Kumar while targetting Imran Khan.

He said that he realised Pakistan was no longer safe for minorities after the daughter of a Sikh priest was forcibly converted in Nankana Sahib province. “If religious leaders are not being respected, then who would listen to me?” Kumar asked.

Baldev Kumar said that he hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would grant him asylum in India.

Kumar said that the atrocities against minorities in Pakistan have increased after India abrogated Article 370 which increased tensions between India and Pakistan over the changed status of Kashmir.

Reportedly, Baldev Kumar is accused in a 2016 murder case of Soran Singh, another person belonging to the minority community in Pakistan, who was then the MLA of his constituency Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Singh, a Sikh activist and the assistant on minorities to the then provincial chief minister, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in 2016.

Soon after Singh’s murder, Baldev Kumar was declared as the MPA-elect Pakistan’s Election Commission. As per Pakistan law, if the MLA dies while being in an office, then the candidate who is second in the same party is made the MLA.

Within 36 hours after he got elected, Baldev Kumar was arrested for Singh’s murder. The police had claimed that Kumar murdered Singh to take his position.

However, Kumar denied allegations and said he was falsely accused in the case. He was kept in a prison for two years while his seat lay vacant till 2018. In 2018, Baldev Kumar was acquitted in the case due to lack of evidence. Surprisingly, he was acquitted in the case two days before the term of the assembly ended.

Pakistan is notoriously known for its persecution of not only religious minorities but also ethnic minorities within their own country. The forceful conversion programmes have often been unleashed against the minorities especially Christians, Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan with at most brutality.

There have been many such cases reported in the recent past. On March 20, two underage Hindu girls were abducted from their home in Pakistan’s Sindh on the eve of Holi. The girls were later forcefully converted and married off to older Muslim men.

In another horrific incident, a 13-year-old Pooja Sotahar Kumari, daughter of Fatan Rathore, resident of village Bakhsho Laghari in Hyderabad district’s Hosri Taluka, was kidnapped, forcefully converted and subsequently married off to a man identified as Syed Irshad Shah.

Recently, a report released by the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) threw light on the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan. The report claims that around 1000 girls from religious minorities are forcibly converted to Islam every year. The numbers might be higher as many cases are not even reported.

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