Pakistan-born Sindhi Nanik Ram Lalwani, 67, suffered the trauma of Partition and till recently faced the threat of deportation. He may now get some reprieve.
Lalwani came to India from Jacobabad in July 2011 on a pilgrim visa for a month. After a year-long stay with his daughter and wife here, now Lalwani does not want to return to Pakistan.
Lalwani had first come with his wife and daughter in 2008 and returned to Pakistan without them. Thereafter, he could not get an Indian visa, till July 2011. “It was a sinking feeling. I had lost hope of meeting my family.”
His prayers were answered after Delhi HC was assured the Centre would provide protection to the “Hindu and Sikh pilgrims and (would) seriously think on their citizenship issue”.
On March 7, the home ministry advised all states and UTs that they might consider granting long-term visas to such people.
This visa allows a person to live in India but does not entitle him or her to obtain documents such as ration card or apply for a government job.
The decision provides relief to nearly 800 Sindhis who came to India from Pakistan on pilgrim visas in 2011. Fear of deportation forced half of them to go back. There are approximately 15,000 Pakistani Sindhis still living in MP, of which 5,000 live in Indore.
Vikas Aghicha, a graduate, whose parents and sister are trying to move out of Pakistan, is also not keen on going back. “What will we do there? We cannot work and live in peace,” said Aghicha.
Many Sindhi Hindus have started some business here and don’t want to return. “Fear of physical, sexual and economic exploitation is the order of the day there,” said Sunil Khasturi, whose father Jeand Ram runs a cloth business at Dwarkapuri.