LAHORE - Another 115 Hindu pilgrims from Sindh left for India through the Wagha border crossing on Saturday. The pilgrims said they would return to their homeland next month after performing religious rites in India.
“We are Pakistanis and would remain Pakistani — Pakistan is our motherland and no one goes away leaving his mother,” a few of the pilgrims said. Reports said 230 pilgrims had gone to India for religious rites – 115 left on Friday and the same number left on Saturday. Meanwhile, India has rejected Pakistan’s charges of a “conspiracy” about giving so many visas to Pakistani Hindus, saying due process and diligence was exercised in accordance with a decades-long visa pact.
“We have exercised visas after due diligence and followed due process in accordance with the India-Pakistan visa pact which regulates travel between the two countries,” government sources told IANS.
“Pakistan has an exit control policy which empowers them to detain any traveler if the visas were not issued in proper categories and following the prescribed system,” said the sources. They were reacting to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s accusation alleging a “conspiracy” by India against Pakistan and demanded to know why the Indian High Commission in the Pakistani capital had issued so many visas to Hindus. Malik refused to let the Hindus proceed beyond Jacobabad, Sindh, unless he was satisfied they would not take asylum in India citing religious persecution — as some Pakistani Hindus had done earlier.
Eventually, after some hours, the Hindus were allowed to go after their representatives pledged to return to Pakistan.
In Pakistan, Interior Minister Malik has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General to keep a watch on those who are spreading such rumors and asked the agency to deal sternly if any case of injustice to Hindus was reported. A cell has been established in the FIA which victims, if any, may approach to report any injustice.
Malik on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting in Islamabad that was attended by the interior secretary and additional secretary, FIA DG, Islamabad IGP and other senior officers.
The FIA DG submitted a report on news of mass migration of Hindus, with the interior minister asking the DG to proceed with the matter for fact finding.
According to the report, all Hindu passengers had stated that they were going to India to visit their religious sites.
It was noted with great concern that a channel initiated a story based on merely speculations which created hype.
In this regard, the FIA DG said there were some agents who were involved in such activities and the aspect was being investigated.
The FIA DG was also directed to assist the committee recently constituted by the president to look into the entire issue and take up the complaints of Hindu community in Sindh.
Malik assured the Hindus that there rights would be protected fully and no one would be allowed to overstep the constitution.
Malik directed the FIA DG to look into a few complaints whereby impression of forced marriages of teenaged Hindu girls had been noticed.