Hindu pilgrims from Pakistan, who crossed the Wagah check post earlier this week, may have preferred to keep mum on the issue of staying back in India. But on Monday, five Hindu families from the neigbouring country, who had just de-boarded the Samjhauta Express, vowed never to return to their homeland.
The families, which reached the Attari railway station, were on a 30-day visa and carried luggage that included household and kitchen items - an indication that they intend to stay back in India. There were many who hinted at the "atrocities" against them across the border.
Stepping out of the train with his wife and four children, Mukesh Kumar Ahuja was in tears. A smalltime trader from the Pakistan province of Balochistan, Mukesh looked shattered. "Hindus, especially in the areas of upper Sindh and Balochistan, are in trouble. Forcible conversions, kidnappings, extortions - everything despicable is happening there," he said.
The idea of leaving his native land where his forefathers chose to stay back during the partition was a tough one, but as Mukesh says: "I have four children and their safety was always a priority. It gives me pain, but safety is more important."
Mukesh's sentiments found echoes in the voice of Pawan Kumar, who came from Sindh. "I have come here with a friend. It is difficult for minorities to live in Pakistan and there are many who want to migrate to India," he said.
Mukesh said lawlessness in Pakistan was too much and minorities suffered the most. "I had a shop. But closed it a year ago as I was looted several times," he said, "I was always afraid because life is in danger there. It was suffocating. So finally, we decided to leave Pakistan forever." A girl, who was part of the families, also spoke to this correspondent. She spoke only after being assured that her name would be kept a secret: "I face no trouble in Pakistan but have come to India for a better future. My husband lives here."
Although many were reluctant to reveal their plans, their luggage said something a thousand words couldn't. Before leaving the station, Mukesh said: "India must consider giving nationality to those coming from Pakistan. I have come for the first time. Agar dil lag gaya toh yahin reh jayenge (If we feel at home here, then we'll stay back)."