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Indian gypsies yet to be recognised as part of diaspora

Indian gypsies yet to be recognised as part of diaspora

Publication: Zee News
Date: January 7, 2009
URL: http://www.zeenews.com/Nation/2007-01-07/346465news.html

Even as people of Indian origin from across the globe congregated at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas conclave here, an expert has claimed that over 15 million gypsies who had migrated from India to Europe are yet to be recognised as part of the diaspora.

"The European Union estimates that there are between eight million to 12 million gypsies of Indian origin there. Worldwide there might be more than 15 million gypsies of Indian origin," Paul Polansky, who had extensively studied the community, said at a seminar here.

"But the government is yet to recognise them as part of the diaspora," Polansky, head of mission for Kosovo and Serbia, said at the seminar on the theme "creative tracks of the Indian diaspora".

Polansky, who surveyed the camps maintained by United Nations in Kosova after Kosovo Liberation Army militants attacked gypsies, said they did not leave India at a single time and as a single caste.

He said even now caste system was prevalent in the Indian gypsy community. "In refugee camps in Kosovo, I discovered that the caste system was still alive among them.

"At the UN camp, people belonging to particular castes bought their brides as was the old custom in South West Punjab. Some still thought that Sun was more important than god," he claimed.

Polansky said the destruction of Sun temple in Multan in 985 AD could be a major reason for the mass exodus of gypsies from India.

Polansky said the takeover of Multan, now in Pakistan, by Islamists expelled from Egypt might have resulted in the mass exodus of people.

"In the 10th century, Multan was taken over by Islamic extremists from Egypt. They were the Kermathians and they converted most of the Punjabi population to Islam. The Karmathians attacked and destroyed the Sun temple, forcing everyone associated with the temple to flee," he added.

"Today in Europe, the gypsies are not called Multani, but many still swear their oaths on the Sun," he said.

The second most recognizable exodus seems to be at the beginning of the 13th century when the Mongols started to invade Afghanistan and northwest India. The "third diaspora" is related to people who fled after the earthquake in western Kashmir and the northwest province in 13th and 14th century.

The last exodus that probably contributed to a big influx of gypsies in Europe was caused by the defeat of the Rajputs at Chitor in 1303 AD, he said.

"Besides resemblance in their oral histories and social tradition, the real test of origin will be DNA test connecting the European gypsies with their distant cousins and castes in India and Pakistan. Already some results are showing amazing results," he added.

"My view about the diaspora of the Indians in Europe, we call gypsies, is that the diaspora has lasted more than a thousand years from Bihar to Punjab and Kashmir, on to Afghanistan and Central Asia to the Middle East and Europe."

However, they are being chased away by different extremists groups and live in utter scare, he said.

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