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‘Had to eat beef if we wanted to study’: Hindu refugee recalls horrific days in Pakistan before fleeing to India, others thank Modi for notifying CAA

With the Centre notifying the rules for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, other Hindu refugees expressed confidence that the government would protect their homes.

On Tuesday, March 12, the Delhi High Court instructed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to not take any coercive action against the Pakistani Hindu refugee camp at the city’s Majnu Ka Tilla area until the next date of hearing. The decision came a day after the central government notified implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rules, creating a pathway for migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, specifically those belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian communities, to obtain citizenship in India.

Exuberated by the central govt’s decision, over 1,000 Pakistani Hindu refugees, staying in a camp in the Majnu Ka Tilla area in Delhi, celebrated by applying colours on each other’s faces, singing songs and dancing.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Maina a member of one of the 200 destitute Hindu refugee families who has been living here for the past 11 years, recalled the atrocities she and her family endured during her days in Pakistan. 

In an interview with Swarajya journalist Swati Goel Sharma, Maina revealed that, despite spending 14 years in Pakistan, she only attended school for one day. “My grandfather got me and my sister Rajkumari admitted to a school in our village in Pakistan,” Maina is heard stating.

“We did not change our names when we applied for admission; we kept our Hindu identity. Every student at our school harassed us. Some ridiculed our deities, while others pulled our hair. Then, between 12 and 1 pm, during recess, we sat down to have our tiffins. The teacher in charge grabbed our lunch boxes and demanded to know why we weren’t consuming the cow meat that was being provided for all the kids. When we declined to consume the beef and told the teacher that our grandfather had told us to eat from our tiffins, she threw our food in the dustbin. Then, in a furious tone, she declared that we would have to eat beef if we wanted to study there. This led to my older sister receiving a beating as well. When we got back home, we told our grandfather what had happened. We went to school for the first and last time on that day,” Maina remembered.

With the Centre notifying the rules for the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, other Hindu refugees expressed confidence that the government would protect their homes. “We are sure that the government intends to accommodate us; unemployment was the biggest issue in Pakistan, and with the implementation of CAA, many of our relatives back in Pakistan will also be able to live and work in India… we are sure that the government will not let anything happen to our homes,” Madhumati, a resident, said.

The Delhi High Court ruled on Tuesday (March 12) that until the next hearing date, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) will not use coercive measures against the Pakistani Hindu refugee camp located in the Majnu Ka Tilla area of the city. 

In an order dated March 12, Justice Mini Pushkarna’s single-judge bench stated, “Considering the statement made on behalf of the then Additional Solicitor General of India, as recorded in order dated 29th May, 2013 in W.P.(C) No. 3712/2013 that the Union of India shall make endeavor to extend all support to the Hindu community which has entered India from Pakistan, it is directed that no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner, till the next date of hearing,” the HC said.

Ravi Ranjan Singh, a refugee, petitioned the High Court to order the authorities to refrain from disturbing or demolishing the Pakistani Hindu refugee camp at Majnu Ka Tilla until they were granted an alternative plot of land, especially when the Union Government had notified the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, through which the persecuted non-Muslims minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan would now be granted the right to officially stay in India.

The decision came a day after the Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi notified the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on March 11, the applications will be submitted in a completely online mode for which a web portal has been provided.

The issuance of these rules is expected to create a pathway for migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, specifically those belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist, and Christian communities, to obtain citizenship in India.

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