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  Wooing Pak Hindus: What’s the real reason

Wooing Pak Hindus: What’s the real reason

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Apr 19, 2016, 6:34 am IST
Updated : Apr 19, 2016, 6:34 am IST

The government is said to be mulling a series of facilities for Hindus from Pakistan who are residing in India on long-term visas (LTVs).

The government is said to be mulling a series of facilities for Hindus from Pakistan who are residing in India on long-term visas (LTVs). These include permission to buy property, open bank accounts, and obtain PAN and Aadhaar cards. If any of them choose to get themselves registered for Indian citizenship, the fees are likely to be slashed drastically — from Rs 15,000 to a token Rs 100.

In sum, if seemingly government-inspired media reports are sustainable, the Indian authorities give the impression of seeking to lure Pakistani Hindus to India, probably for reasons to do with domestic politics.

While this appears to be the main thrust, probably in order not to give the move a partisan Hindu colour, the BJP-led government’s hinted-at policy, at the level of formality, will permit generous facilities for holders of LTVs belonging to the “minorities” of not just Pakistan but also Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and not specify Hindus (or Sikhs).

Many may thus wonder if Pakistani Christians will also make the cut, or for that matter the Ahmadis, also known as Qadianis, who are repressed in Pakistan as a matter of state policy as they are no longer considered Muslim, as they used to be and still desire to be.

The move looks to be ill-considered and the governments of the countries in question will not be unjustified in lodging a protest if this thinking were to be concretised. It needs to be noted that there is no official policy of repression against the minorities, of even the Hindus, in Pakistan, leave alone Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Hindus, in particular, have sometimes suffered in Pakistan and in Bangladesh — and Christians in Pakistan — but episodes of attack on account of their faith have generally had social and political proximate causes — as is the case in India in relation to Muslims — unrelated to state action.

In the case of Pakistan, it is salutary to remember that let alone the religious minorities, even prominent liberals have come under attack, although they may be of the Muslim faith, as in the case of the Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was assassinated by one of his bodyguards. The country, as a whole, seems to have suffered in the wider context of Islamic extremism being encouraged as a matter of state policy at various times.

In the early Eighties, during the raging “anti-foreigner” agitation in Assam, the BJP was keen to let illegal Bangladeshi Hindus filter into India (although they hardly ever did that), but choke the illegal immigration of Muslims.

This was a purely religion-driven approach, hardly worthy of a democracy. It would be another matter if any individual or group suffering state victimisation sought asylum.