The violence around the citizenship law is a classic case of what a fake narrative by a desperate opposition can do. While the reckless protesters destroy public property, does even one person take a moment to try and feel the pain of the persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan?

Should these persons who have been abused, tortured and raped live like second rate citizens in India as well. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act has come as a blessing to these persons, who will finally have a home that they can call theirs.

In a nutshell the amended citizenship law grants rights to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains who have been persecuted in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Should they live here as second-class citizens?

The Hindus in Pakistan have experienced religious persecution and systematic violence for many years. Documented massacres, desecration of Temples, rapes, torture and forced conversions is what the Hindus and other religious minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan have endured.

In the year 2010, a member of the Pakistan Human Rights Council said that every month 25 Hindu girls are raped and forcibly converted. The Christians too have faced similar persecution. On October 18, 2005, Sanno Amra and Champa, a Hindu couple residing at the Punjabi Colony in Karachi, returned home to find that their three teenage daughters had disappeared. It was found that they were taken to a Madrasa and forcibly converted and not allowed to meet their parents after that.

In July 2010, 60 members of the Hindu community in Karachi were attacked and evicted from their homes. The reason: A Hindu youth was drinking water from a tap near a Mosque. Four years later, a policeman standing guard outside a Temple was gunned down.

In 2005, 32 Hindus were killed by firing from the government side during the clashes between the Bugti tribesmen and paramilitary forces in Balochistan. As recently as September 2019, a Hindu teacher was attacked, and three Hindu Temples were vandalised in Ghotki over allegations of blasphemy.

In Bangladesh, Hindus still face discrimination. The Hindus are vulnerable in Bangladesh thanks to rising violence and extremism. On February 6, 2010, the Sonargaon Temple in Narayanganj district was destroyed by Islamic fanatics.

A report published in 2017 said that during that 107 Hindus were killed and 31 were victims of enforced disappearance. 782 Hindus were forced or threatened to leave the country. 25 Hindu women and children were raped while 235 temples were vandalised. For the year 2017, the total number of atrocities committed against the Hindus stood at 6,437.

In Afghanistan, the year 2001 witnessed a law being passed whereby Hindus had to wear yellow badges in public in order to identify themselves. The Hindu women were forced to dress according to Islamic hijab. The protests however forced the Taliban to abandon this policy.

Should the minorities be left to die with the Taliban?

It is the rise of the Taliban and the embracing of Talibanisation that has increased incidents of persecution. While Pakistan has always persecuted the minorities, the rise of Taliban worsened the problems not just for the Hindus, but for the Buddhists, Christians and Sikhs.

The Hindus who were living in the Swat Valley under the influence of the Taliban were forced to wear red head gear in order to be identified.

Such horrific incidents have left the Hindus and other minorities with no option but to migrate to India. The Hindus say that they are treated as second class citizens. In this context it would be pertinent to ask if they should continue to be treated as second class citizens in India as well?

In 2013, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that 1,000 Hindu families fled to India. In 2014, Dr Ramesh Kumar, a member of the PML-N said that 5,000 Hindus are migrating to India every year. This is owing to the fear of being persecuted. The Hindu women in particular are targeted the most and an estimated 25 Hindu women and girls, per month, are forcibly converted, raped and then married off to their rapists. The National Commission for Justice and Peace said in a report that 1,000 Hindu and Christian women are converted to Islam every year and forcibly married off to their abductors or rapists.

Many Hindus have been voluntarily converting to Islam to easily get the National Identification Cards. 428 poor Hindus were converted in Matli between 2009 and 2011 by the Madrasa Baitul Islam, which pays the debts of Hindus on the condition that they convert to Islam. Similarly, 250 Hindus converted to Islam in the Chohar Jamali area in Thatta.

The Deen Mohammad Shaikh mission has converted 108,000 people to Islam since 1989.

It is the blasphemy laws in Pakistan that have aided both the state and the fanatics to go about persecuting the minorities. These laws say that it is an offence to insult Prophet Mohammad, the Quran and religious personalities. These laws framed when Zia-ul-Haq was the President led to the Islamisation police. The law intends to protect the 97% of the Muslims against the 3% minorities.

In October 2019, a Pakistani-American human rights activist, Fatima Gul, had said that religious persecution remains a salient feature of Pakistan.

While testifying before a Congressional hearing on the human rights situation in South Asia, she said that Pakistan is also one of the most dangerous countries for women. Religious persecution remains a salient feature of Pakistan. Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis and Hazara are helpless victims at the hands of the religious extremists who operate with government impunity.

She further added that Pakistan is primarily run by the Pakistan Army and Islamic extremist groups. A large number of people experience oppression, religious and political persecution by the government officials, she also said.

Let us hear them out:

The case of Ranaram Bheel is just one of the many cases to show how badly the minorities in Pakistan are treated. He was living with his wife in Pakistan. His Muslim landlord kidnapped his wife, and forcibly converted her to Islam before marrying her.

Bheel made umpteen number of visits to the police station. An FIR was filed, but no action was taken. Bheel felt that it would be better to move to India as all he had left was his daughter. Had he continued to live in Pakistan, his daughter would have faced the same fate as his wife. Today Bheel is in India and thanks to this amendment, he is now entitled to become an Indian citizen.

Gangaram is a Hindu refugee living in Majnu-ka-tilla near New Delhi. He fled to India in 2011 on a religious visa. In an exclusive interview with MyNation, he had said that he had a grocery and cloth shop in Pakistan. He had to shut it down because of extremist Muslims. We were unable to protect the Hindu women and girls. Even our boys were kidnapped and returned in exchange for money. However, that was not the case with the girls. Gangaram now works for the rehabilitation of the persecuted Hindus and with the help of pro-Hindu organisations, they have been able to extricate nearly 7,000 Hindus from Pakistan.

Happy to be back in my motherland:

Sonadas and Dharamveer Solanki, two other Hindus also interviewed by MyNation have had similar experiences in Pakistan. Dharamveer considers Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a God. He had the courage to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, he says, while narrating his trauma in Pakistan.

Solanki had landed in Hyderabad Sindh, but it was usurped by the state. To make it worse, he was forced to work as a labourer in his own land. He says that there was never any quality education in Pakistan, and it was Islam that was forcibly taught to them. Unable to bear the humiliation, he fled from Pakistan to India.

Sonadas says that he is happy to be back in his motherland. He heads a family of 12 and while in Pakistan’s Hyderabad, he faced a lot of persecution from extremist Muslims. He was fed up and with his eyes welling up he says that all he wanted to do was reach India. He tried for a religious visa and it finally came through in 2012.

With the passage of the CAB, Sonadas says he is relieved. I do face difficulties in Delhi, where I run a lot of errands. But I am happy that I am in my motherland where I have religious freedom. My children can now pursue their dreams, Sonadas also said.

Listening to these horror tales, one must take a moment to bow before the likes of Shilipi Tewari who works tirelessly for these persons who have been persecuted. Tewari works at the Majnu-ka-tilla refugee camp near Delhi and is part of the emergency and aid team. She said that in Pakistan it is common to rape Hindu girls. They are treated like second class citizens. The persecution has only increased in the last 8 years she also says.