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Sunday, December 3, 2023

“Camps illegal, encroached on defence land”: Centre tells Delhi High Court in Pakistani Hindu refugees’ plea for electricity connection

The Central Government has informed the Delhi High Court that Pakistani Hindu refugees, seeking electricity connection at their camps in North Delhi, are ‘encroaching’ on the land belonging to the Defence Ministry because of which their plea for electricity connections should not be entertained, reports legal site

The centre has submitted:

“…not only the answering respondent not the competent authority to provide electric connections or provide any assistance of any sort to migrants, but also in view of the illegal encroachment the petition is misconceived and frivolous and deserves to be dismissed in-limine (as a preliminary matter).”

Last month, a bench led by the Chief Justice DN Patel had issued notice on the plea after hearing Advocate Rohit Madan for Petitioner Hariom. Madan said that the said refugees, about 800 in number, have been living in Delhi without electricity from many years. They approached various Government authorities in this regard, including State and Centre, but in vain.

“They all have been suffering Delhi’s extreme weather conditions and current pandemic without electricity and without any help from the Government Authority,” the plea stated.

The Centre informed the court that it had accorded sanction for transfer of the land where refugee camps exists to the Defence Rescarch and Development Organization (DRDO), and has been following up since 2018 for removal of ‘unauthorized occupation’ with concerned district and police administratiton.

The Petitioner claimed that the migrants had also approached the concerned power distribution company i.e., Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL). It is stated that though the migrants presented their Visas/ Aadhar Cards before TPDDL, their application was turned down on the ground that Aadhar card can be used as an identity proof but it cannot be used as proof of occupancy of the premises.

Quoting a Gujarat High Court judgement, the petitioner sought a direction upon the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission to include Long Term Visa (LTV)/ Passport as identity proof and Aadhar card as proof of occupancy under the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (Supply Code and Performance Standards) Regulations, 2017.

It must be noted that LiveLaw does have a pronounced left-liberal bias, and the person who filed this report, Nupur Thapliyal, has clearly exhibited her political leanings on twitter –

But as this is not an opinion piece, and just an account of what transpired in court, we can reasonably assume that it is true.

Ironically, the same Delhi has camps for Bangladeshi Muslim migrants, with all amenities and even luxuries like air conditioners. As Swati Goel Sharma described in this 2018 Swarajya article when she visited the Adarsh Nagar Hindu refugee camp in Delhi (a Bangladeshi Muslim camp is close by) –

This correspondent visited the Bangladeshi camp and found air-conditioners installed outside several cement-and-brick houses.

A social worker who operates in Adarsh Nagar, and did not wish to be named, said the adjoining Bangladeshi camp also uses illegal power supply but they remain untouched. “It’s not a matter of what’s legal and what’s illegal. A number of illegalities happen under the nose of the government. They act on some but ignore others,” he said.

It’s a popular belief that Muslim migrants are, generally, taken care of while Hindu refugees are ignored by political parties who see the former as vote banks.

…Bangladeshi and Rohingya Muslims are helped by several non-government organisations but this privilege is seldom extended to Hindu refugees. The former flourish much faster. This, despite their high involvement in crime.

..Even the human rights activists do not seem as concerned about Hindu refugees as the Rohingyas. A plea is being heard in the Supreme Court on the living conditions of Rohingyas in several places including Delhi and nearby Mewat. The apex court recently directed the sub-divisional magistrate of such areas to be made nodal officers to see that Rohingyas get all sorts of facilities.”

Persecuted in Pakistan, ignored in Bharat

HinduPost has been covering the plight of persecuted Hindu refugees from Pakistan for many years now. It is estimated that every year, 5000 Hindus stream across the border from Pakistan. Many come on religious tourist visas, but then stay back in the hope of safety, religious freedom and a better life in Bharat. At times, even getting a visa from the Indian embassies in Pakistan is a struggle.

It is estimated that there are 2-3 lakh Pakistani Hindu refugees living in Bharat in around 400 settlements spread across states like Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Punjab and Maharashtra.

Sadly, these displaced, marginalized Hindus who are victims of brutal violence, sexual predation, religious persecution and institutionalized discrimination in an Islamo-fascist country like Pakistan, are yet to receive sustained and systemic support from the Indian state

BJP’s 2014 election manifesto stated “Bharat is a natural home for persecuted Hindus”, and some steps have indeed been taken to make lives of these refugees easier – such as the August 2016 decision allowing refugees staying in Bharat on LTV (Long-term visa) to open bank accounts, purchase property, get PAN and Aadhaar cards, driving license and free movement within the state or union territory they are residing. But the overall attitude of our secular government machinery remains apathetic, even Hinduphobic.

The CAA law which was passed in December 2019 promised to provide expedited citizenship to these persecuted refugees who came on or before 31 December, 2014 – however, almost 2 years later, the rules to implement this law are yet to be notified by Home Ministry.

But even the thousands of Pakistani Hindu refugees who have got citizenship before CAA still remain economically deprived as no institutional development support has been provided to them.

Over the 2016-18 period the Rajasthan administration (BJP was in power at the time) deported 968 Hindu citizens from Pakistan. Upon going back, these Hindus are forced to convert to Islam in order to save their women and family. Many are forced to convert in mass ceremonies funded by Muslim businessmen and powerful clerics. Thousands of LTV applications filed by Hindu refugees remain stuck with state government, MHA or FROs (Foreigner Registration Offices). Even if the Centre makes rules for the rehabilitation of displaced Hindus, they are not followed at the district level.

Hindu refugee camps also exist in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, as most poor Pakistani Hindus live right across the border in Pakistan’s Sindh province. As this touching piece from a visit to one such camp in December 2019 (around the time CAA was passed) where the writer Sahana Singh talked to human rights activists informs us –

“the misery of the migrants comes from the fact that they are ill-treated for being minorities and kafirs in Pakistan while in Bharat, they are looked at with suspicion for being Pakistani. …Pakistani Hindu migrants who flee to Bharat have often been jailed or deported because of petty visa offences….

By and large, the tendency of the Bharatiya government, both at the centre and state has been to push migrants back into Pakistan. Under the BJP government, there has been some sympathy for them; however there is no legal mechanism for them to rent a home, receive healthcare, gas/water/electricity/telephone connections, obtain a driver’s licence, buy a mobile SIM card or set up a business in their name. Basically, the Pakistani Hindu migrants have no identity nor a country to call their own even though they regard Bharat as their natural homeland.”

For the moment, the best help to these persecuted refugees is being provided by private Hindu groups like Seemant Lok SangathanPakistan Hindu Refugee Relief Program (an umbrella body consisting of VHP, HAF and other groups), Nimittekam, Human Aid International etc.

But even there, no corporate support is forthcoming as this work is branded ‘communal’. And Hindu society also has to rediscover its institutionalised mechanisms for daana (giving); most of our charity today is episodic and event-based.  

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