HAF Disappointed by India's Decision to Deny Refugee Status to Pakistani Hindus

Washington, D.C. (March 21, 2013) -- The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) expressed disappointment with the Indian government's recent decision to deny refugee status to Hindus fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan. The announcement was made last Friday by the Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mullappally Ramachandran, during a session in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament).
"India's refusal to classify Pakistani Hindus as refugees, despite having endured systematic oppression and discrimination, is unconscionable," said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF's Director and Senior Fellow for Human Rights, who recently visited Pakistani Hindu camps in the Indian city of Jodhpur. "Absent official refugee status or citizenship, these Pakistani Hindus are virtually stateless and lack the ability to move freely in India, obtain employment, or access basic government assistance."
According to Kalra, thousands of Pakistani Hindus, primarily from Sindh province, have sought refuge in India in recent years, with an estimated 1,000 migrating annually to the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Community based organizations, such as Seemanth Lok Sangathan (SLS), assert that there are now approximately 120,000 Pakistani Hindus living in India. SLS further contends that neither the Indian government nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has ever officially categorized Pakistani Hindus as refugees, with the sole exception of those arriving during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War.