India to give long-term visas to Pakistani Hindus

India on Thursday extended a helping hand to Pakistani Hindus who have arrived here on tourist/pilgrimage visas, saying New Delhi was willing to issue long-term visas to them if they applied under the norms. The announcement was made Thursday morning by Union Home Secretary RK Singh, after the government was taken by surprise by a large number of Pakistani Hindus declaring their wish to stay on the Indian soil after crossing over. “So far, no one has applied for long-term visa. Basically, we have norms for the long-term visa. If they apply under them, they will get it,” Singh said here.
The government had earlier said that it would look into the issue. Hindus from Pakistan who are visiting India for pilgrimage were given visas like any other Pakistani nationals. The families, who had communicated their desire to stay through the media, have yet to approach the Indian government officially. A large number of Pakistani Hindu families have crossed over into India in recent days, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik had alleged that he suspected a “conspiracy” in the giving of visas to a large number of people. Mukesh Kumar Ahuja, a Pakistani Hindu, said: “Things are so bad for Hindus in Pakistan that we have decided that we will not return at all even though we have signed documents in Pakistan assuring authorities that we will return. We will request for asylum here. We have been forced to give up our established business there.”

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