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Pak Sikhs, Hindus want India visas

Pak Sikhs, Hindus want India visas

Author: Correspondent
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: May 11, 2009

Scores of Sikh and Hindu families who have been rendered homeless by the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat territory want Indian visas to seek shelter with relatives living in Amritsar.

Essentially tradesmen, Sikh and Hindu families in Amritsar, Pakistan's frontier provinces and further westwards in Afghanistan, have sustained mutual links despite being divided by political boundaries. The age-old trading in dry and fresh fruits, woollens and green tea has also helped keep these relations strong.

"We moved here from Peshawar during the tabaadla (exchange) of 1956. But many of our people stayed back in Pakistan and they have now landed in great trouble," said Mr Anant Ram, a Sehajdhari Sikh who works at the local gurdwara at the Peshauri Mohalla in Amritsar.

The old Peshawar families of Amritsar say they are appalled at the persecution of their brethren, many of them blood relatives, in Pakistan.

"I have many relatives who are suffering over there. The Pakistan government is doing nothing to help and they have been calling every day saying they fear even more persecution. My people have lost everything but the clothes they are wearing. There is simply no sense of security even though they have moved out of Swat," said Mahant Lal Pishauri.

"These people are desperate to move out of Pakistan. Their homes were razed to the ground by Taliban and they can expect nothing from the government there.

They are ready to come to Amritsar but say Indian visas are not easy to come by under the present circumstances," said Mr Anant Ram who, like the others, is looking forward to host his Swat relatives.

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