Over 600 Pakistani Hindu immigrants in Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar area have to constantly battle poverty, filth, and a lack of electricity and clean drinking water. Surrounded by garbage and open sewers, their pleas for better facilities have fallen on deaf ears even as they await acceptance, which they were denied in Pakistan, too.
Having entered India on the pretext of pilgrimage, the immigrants are now living on extended visas with no intention of returning to Pakistan. While most of them cite religious persecution as the reason for their migration, some say they were worried about the safety of their girls, who faced abduction, rape, and conversion to Islam.
While they live in slums, a Bangladeshi refugee colony at some distance has air conditioners installed.
A Union minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, and a Delhi lawmaker, Kapil Mishra, recently visited the camps of Pakistani immigrants, but the situation hasn’t improved a bit. Rama Bai, a woman in her 40s, recently died of heat stroke. During rains, the residents have to fight mosquitoes and diseases. Come winter and they are left at the mercy of Mother Nature in their makeshift huts made of wood, dry leaves, and tarpaulin.
Most of them sell mobile phone covers at Delhi Metro stations. Children have gradually taken to schooling but they tend to end their studies early to earn a living. When they arrive in India, they can only speak the Gujarati or Sindhi language, and have to learn the local language. Most of them dream of becoming an officer or a doctor, but the gap between their aspirations and reality seems unbridgeable.
However, despite being looked down upon as Pakistanis, they are happy to be in a country they can call their home and that allows them to practice their religion.