LAHORE - A group of about 250 Hindus were on Friday allowed to cross over to India for a pilgrimage after being detained at the Wagha border crossing due to a controversy over reports that they planned to migrate to the neighbouring country due to an increase in violence against the minority community in Sindh and Balochistan.
The Hindus protested at the Wagah border after they were detained for almost seven hours. Immigration authorities finally allowed them to cross the frontier at about 2.30pm.
“We were given the go-ahead from the interior minister to allow about 250 Hindus to travel to India. They all have valid travel documents,” a senior official of the Federal Investigation Agency said. “The Hindus have 33-day visas for different Indian cities. We stopped them temporarily after media reports said they would not return because of some problems they were facing here,” the official said, adding that a special FIA team had been assigned to interview the Hindus. He said that the Hindus dismissed media reports about them and assured them that they would not speak against Pakistan in India. He added that the FIA had not sought any sort of undertaking from the Hindus. “They promised not to defame Pakistan,” he said.
Though the Hindus gathered at the border crossing at 8am, only two doctors and their families were initially allowed to cross to India. Both doctors had “no-objection certificates” and authorities had earlier said they would only allow people with NOCs to cross the border. Minister for Interior Rehman Malik said Hindu families having complete travel documents and valid visa were allowed to proceed to India.
While chairing a meeting to review migration of Hindu families from Jacobabad to India, the minister said a group representing all Hindu citizens had assured the government that the Hindu families were going to India to visit religious sites.
“They will come back and would not apply for political asylum in India,” Malik said, adding that the government would provide complete security to minorities and the agents involved in providing political asylum to minorities would be taken to task per the law of the land. He sought report on the issue from the FIA DG at the earliest. Meanwhile in Islamabad, President Asif Zardari took serious notice of the reports regarding insecurity among the minority Hindus and directed the authorities concerned to allay their grievances and submit a report to him. Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that President Zardari had also constituted a three-member committee of parliamentarians comprising Senator Hari Ram, MNA Lal Chand and Federal Minister Moula Bakhsh Chandio to visit different parts of Sindh to express solidarity with the Hindus.