Hindu refugees made to suffer but illegal Muslim refugees get aadhar card in a week

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Kiran Chukkapali, Founder of Think Peace with Hindu refugee children.

The persecuted Hindu refugee faces obstacle at every step in Bharat (India) while the illegal Muslim refugees ‘manage’ to get aadhar cards and other government identity cards that helps them easily settle anywhere across India. Kiran Chukkapali, Founder of Think Peace explains News Intervention’s Sabita Mishra how confused secularists and leftist ecosystem has made survival difficult for Hindu refugees.

Sabita Mishra: A few days ago, the local administration in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, bulldozed the refugee camps of Pakistani Hindus. The pictures and videos were heartbreaking. What do you think we, as civilians, can do?

Kiran Chukkapali: It is indeed heartbreaking to see women, children and men becoming homeless in a matter of hours. The government did not even think for a moment on what would happen to them if the houses are bulldozed in peak desert summers. A couple of days back I was at the new land allotted to them and there were hail storms at 2 AM. The kids exposed to the storm were hidden under cots and parents clutching them to safeguard like hens safeguarding their chickens under their wings. As civilians, the first time we did what we should have done long back, we as Hindus cried with them and raised voices for them, hence a land was allotted in record time. As an organisation, we have already given them water facilities, food supplies for weeks and started rebuilding roofs which shall be complete in a month. In a month they will be looking forward to a brighter future. This again shows the importance of the street power and online power we as Indic people need to develop in order to safeguard other Hindus. But the most important thing, we as civilians must do is have the discernment to see who is creating policies for national interest and who is creating them for vote banks and politics. If we become aware of this, we can greatly reduce human suffering by supporting the right campaigns at the right time.

Sabita Mishra: Even though India is the birthplace of Hinduism, why do you think there is no place for Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh in India?

Kiran Chukkapali: It is unfortunate that even though we have this large sense of humanity as a nation who has provided refuge to many communities over the years, including Tibetan Buddhists, Sri Lankan Tamils, Afghans and Rohingyas, among others, our political critics argue that selective acceptance of refugees based on religion could undermine the secular fabric of the country. Political opposition and public protests against Indian refugee policies have added to the political challenges faced by the government. This leads us down an ironic self-discriminatory path where we start to identify every human based on their religion or ethnic roots, before we can fulfil our fundamental responsibility to provide refuge to humans escaping persecution.

In the early 1990s, when the Bhutanese government adopted the ‘one nation, one people’ policy to protect their political interests, several thousands of Bhutanese residents of Indic ethnicity were robbed off their citizenship by the authorities in order to protect Bhutan’s political interests. Over 1,00,000 Hindus were forced out of their homes in 1992 and were resettled to the US, Australia, Canada, Finland and other European countries, but India could not open its arms to embrace these people. Churches made use of this opportunity and supported UNHCR to help them rehabilitate these people and as a result, as per a research about 80% of these Hindus have been converted to Christianity. SEWA International is the only noted organisation from Indic roots who helped rehabilitate a few of those people. Whereas, in India we kept fighting this debate on secularism and lost sight of the human suffering of people within our own ethnic roots. Simply put, in India, we get validation only when we open our hearts to embrace non-Indic cultures, but when we try to do the same for Indic people, the left liberals  goes up in arms with the weapon of secularism. Whose vested interests are these parties serving, we must ask!

Hindu Refugees forced to use charpoys as shelter after the Rajasthan administration demolished their homes in Jaisalmer.

Sabita Mishra: What are the reasons for the lack of solidarity? Have Pakistani Hindus ever faced racism?

Kiran Chukkapali: When Pakistani Hindus come into India they come with a Pakistani passport, which is the root cause of their difficulties. They find it challenging to integrate into the Indian community on a Pakistani Identity in spite of being of Hindu ethnic background. They are able to integrate by joining their own family or community and choose to resettle with their own cultural areas, for example, Gujaratis prefer Rajkot, Morbi, Mehsana. Bhil community etc. prefer Rajasthan. But the issues they face are mostly in bigger towns as their Pakistani passport is feared by people and are denied rental homes etc. Hence we propose an identity card in our policy. Also another issue is Indian Hindus and Hindus worldwide see this as a Pakistani Hindu or Sindhi Hindu problem and the problems are known limitedly only in two or three states of India. Rest of India doesn’t even know that this problem exists and that this refugee migration still happens. A lot of people are shocked when I say 4,300 Hindu families crossed the border legally into India in the last year alone. They are being persecuted in Pakistan because they are Hindu. Over 6.9 crore Hindus disappeared, converted, sold through human trafficking in the last 7 decades which is 10 times bigger than the holocaust and a population more than many countries on the planet. Imagine wiping out a population of a country or a state in South India, what level of outrage will that bring, then why is this silent? Let this pain be owned by every Hindu and humanitarian as their own. Only then will the government be able to ride that wave without much obstruction from leftist chaos agenda. We need to question ourselves, what are we trying to safeguard by being silent? Is it worth it?

Sabita Mishra: Why is India accepting Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims but not Hindu refugees?

Kiran Chukkapali: India is accepting or denying everyone on equal note. But it is the people of India that have confused the definition of secularism to mean support and speaking out for Rohingyas but not for Hindus. If you look at Muslims crossing the border into India, most of them have aadhar cards and other IDs within a week after they come here. The Muslim community supports Muslims lobby in such a strong way and arranges everything for their own people. So with the right documentation in place, they are easily accepted by the authorities. Whereas, the Hindus that escape Pakistan, need to have a passport extension, before proceeding with getting an Indian identity. Our cooperation with the Pakistani Embassy cannot be relied upon to make things easy for these refugees, and internally the debate of secularism with the opposition doesn’t allow us to put systems in place to make integration easy for the Hindu refugees.

Sabita Mishra: Why are certain groups against the human rights of Hindus in India?

Kiran Chukkapali: I don’t think they are trying to be against anybody’s human rights, but they are unfortunately limited by selective outrage, instigated by the liberal left, we end up polarising ourselves in the guise of creating equality. I think the youth today is becoming more aware of which campaigns are of political interests and which ones actually serve the national interest. This is a very important distinction for us as citizens to know where to put our support.

Sabita Mishra: What is your opinion on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)?

Kiran Chukkapali: The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is not an entirely new law but an amendment to an existing one. Its primary purpose is to address the hardships faced by persecuted Indic people by reducing the residency requirement from 11 years to 6 years in a systematic manner. If effectively implemented at the district level, it has the potential to bring about significant positive change in enabling Indic refugees to live dignified lives in India. Even though it is only applicable to the people who arrived in India before December 2014, which is less than one lakh people, the amendment represents a crucial step in dismantling the barriers and conditions that we have imposed upon ourselves in the name of secularism.

I see the amendment as a tool for restoring equity, in a world where India is surrounded by hostile neighbours. This debate on maintaining a secular social fabric at the cost of the suffering of these Hindu Refugees almost seems like a crime against humanity. I think we all need to take a hard look at the ground realities.

Sabita Mishra: Why do Muslim refugees from Bangladesh get much better facilities than Pakistani Hindus?

Kiran Chukkapali: The government in West Bengal supports the Muslim lobby who help Muslim migrants to resettle and change the vote bank dynamics of sensitive areas in the border of India and Bangladesh in West Bengal.

Sabita Mishra: India has mostly adopted a non-refoulement policy. What are your views on it? Is this enough, or do we need to change it?

Kiran Chukkapali: India is not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, which provides the definitions and obligations of host countries towards those facing persecution, yet India has a stellar record when it comes to refugee protection. While Article 21 of the Constitution of India which encompasses within its scope the principle of ‘non-refoulement’. ‘Non-refoulement’ is a principle of international law that forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in danger of persecution. The policy itself is commendable had it been clearly defined in a few terms, such as legal entry vs illegal entry, migrant – an individual seeking to be in a host country for a better life vs refugee – a person who is forced off their country because of persecution. Both need two different laws and processes to assimilate them into the nation’s policy, so that illegal immigrants who pose a security threat to the nation can be tracked with a lot more accuracy. These definitions would provide further clarity on who should receive humanitarian aid without jeopardising our national security considering we are surrounded by volatile borders and ideologies within and around us.

Sabita Mishra: What is the Bharat Refugee Yatra?

Kiran Chukkapali: I took up a 10,000 km plus yatra through the length and breath of Bharat from Kanyakumari, Jaisalmer, Delhi, Arunachal, Silchar and back to Kanyakumari. I lived in the camps, researched and documented the plight of Indian refugees from over 92 camps. These camps were not part of any study before, they had no systems in place and were mostly in the dark. This Bharat refugee yatra opened my eyes to the silent refugee crisis in India. When I started in 2019, I knew we had a lot of Indic refugees but there was no documentation on from where and in how many numbers they come and the problems they face. After the yatra, we have released two action plans in the last three years and supported over 2,80,000 Hindus and Buddhists through various socio-economic development projects ranging from solar lights, schools, health care initiatives, toilets, smokeless stoves, etc.. The yatra also laid the foundation to come out with comprehensive rehabilitation policy suggestions for Pakistani Hindus, which we are hoping to take up majorly in the next few months.

Sabita Mishra: Why are Chakmas stateless, despite the Supreme Court directing that they be granted citizenship?

Kiran Chukkapali: It is a matter of political power play. The political party that has AAPSU (student body of Arunachal Pradesh) support wins elections. AAPSU have been wanting to drive away Chakma and Hajong community out of their land because of internal conflicts and claim that they are non-natives despite the fact that Chakmas (Buddhist) and Hajongs (Hindu) have been settled in the Napha area even before Arunachal was formed in 1976. No party is ready to dare to apply the law of the Supreme Court at the expense of losing their majority vote bank. The 70,000 strong Chakma and Hajong communities have suffered for over six decades and they deserve to live in peace and dignity. They are a strong community and their assimilation into India will strengthen our borders in Arunachal especially they being tribes and very well know how to survive in the difficult terrain, they can guard us from Chinese aggression. But this is one good example of how justice and humanity fails in the face of politics.

Sabita Mishra: What is the silent refugee crisis?

Kiran Chukkapali: For some reason, the international or local voices for Hindus facing harassment, violence & persecution are not present. In the case of Hindus from Pakistan, over 1000 Hindu girls between the age of 11-16 go missing in Sindh province alone, women are being used as commodities for conversion and carnal pressures, today they are escaping that and coming to Bharat. But in India too, we don’t hear any feminist voice supporting them! Most Hindus coming Pakistan are Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, so where are all the Dalit organisations in India? Are the Hindus of Pakistan left out because they are proud Hindus and don’t call themselves in caste sections? Where is the good secular Muslim? What is the use of good Muslims if they are not standing up against the atrocities from within their community? International human rights organisations thrive on heavy funding from few countries and only work for whom the West and Middle East voice out to safeguard their interests. But we do not have systems, lobbying or money to give them, so they leave Pakistani Hindus mostly in the dark. It’s a web they are not able to break because of which the Hindu population in Pakistan came down from 22% to 1% and yet there are no genocide museums, no outrage heroes born from them. We, at the Refugee Aid Project, are doing our best to fill that vacuum and build systems for displaced Indic people in India and across the world. We will ensure that we have systems in place soon.

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