Narrating the plight of Hindus in Pakistan, Kamla Devi said they are also compelled not to celebrate their festivals including Diwali. According to Kamla, Hindus watch Indian television channels to find out the festival details and at times celebrate Diwali the next day after the celebrations in India are over

The Hindu and Sikh families, who were forced to flee Pakistan after the religious persecution crossed its limits in the past two decades, have settled in various parts of Punjab including Amritsar, Khanna, Jalandhar, and Pathankot.

Punjab being the frontier state and sharing borders with Pakistan has witnessed the immigration of Hindu and Sikh families from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sialkot and other parts of the country.

Most of the immigrants living in Punjab are Hindus. Besides religious persecution, the safety of the women belonging to the minority community was one of the primary reasons behind their immigration.

Finding a home in India and a job are some of their biggest challenges as the homeowners and employers, they say, are sceptical about their identity. Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs do not have any identity proof except their expired Pakistan passports and Indian visas that they have to renew regularly to stay as immigrants.

There are 350 Hindu immigrants currently living in various localities of Jalandhar city in Punjab. Thirty Hindu-Sikh families live in Amritsar city. Some Pakistani immigrants live in Khanna and Pathankot towns.


Fifty-two-year-old Kamla Devi left Sialkot way back in 2006 with husband Kala Ram (60) and four children including two daughters. She lost her eldest son recently who was shouldering the family responsibility. As the husband is a senior citizen, the financial responsibility now lies with Kamla Devi.

Kamla Devi works as casual labour and stitches footballs to make both ends meet. She earns Rs 6 from stitching one football. She is not able to stitch more than four balls a day as she said, it is painful and stressful. Despite using glasses, Kamla Devi is not able to thread-the-needle and has to request others to do it. She earns Rs 24 a day.

She may have enjoyed the freedom as a woman in India during the past 13 years but sustaining the family income is tough. She recollects the circumstances which compelled her family to leave Sialkot, Pakistan with tears in her eyes.

"The reason which forced us to leave Sialkot was religious persecution. Hindus are subjected to atrocities and religious, and racial discrimination. Hindus are untouchable in Pakistan. Our children are forced to sit on separate benches in Pakistani government schools. They do not allow us to perform religious rites," Kamla Devi told India Today TV.

Narrating the plight of Hindus in Pakistan, Kamla Devi said they are also compelled not to celebrate their festivals including Diwali. According to Kamla, Hindus watch Indian television channels to find out the festival details and at times celebrate Diwali the next day after the celebrations in India are over.

Kamla Devi's relative Chanda (35) and her family was also compelled to leave their house in Pakistan. They came to Jalandhar on a tourist visa in 2001. Her husband works as a driver and has three school-going children (two daughters and a son). Chanda also stitches footballs and earns Rs 30 a day.

"Religion was very dear to us as this is our cultural identity. My brother said we can leave Pakistan but not our religion. So we came here. I was also subjected to the step-motherly treatment in my school in Pakistan," Chanda said.

Chanda said that she and her other family members have spent half of their lives waiting for the citizenship rights. Passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will at least make the lives of her children easy as, she said, "they will get opportunities to get government jobs".


Like the families of Kamla and Chanda, the family of Rajesh Kumar (38) is also living in Jalandhar since 2007. Rajesh hails from Orakzai, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. He came to Jalandhar along with his wife Ramleela (35) and three children -- a daughter and two sons. His six brothers still live in Orakzai.

Rajesh sells vegetables on a cycle cart and earns up to Rs 10,000 per month. Half of his earnings are spent on house rent. He spends nearly Rs 5,000 every year on renewal of five visas and has spent over Rs 60,000 on the same in the past 13 years.

Rajesh's wife Ramleela works in a local Gurdwara where she managed to earn Rs 4,500. Her 18-year-old daughter Hina is also looking for a job to support the family.

"Selling vegetables is a seasonal job. Our children are safe here but being the citizens of another country makes our lives difficult. We hope that we will be able to get the civil rights as the Citizen Amendment law has been passed," Rajesh Kumar told India Today TV.


While Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs living in Punjab, on one hand, are happy that the Citizenship Amendment Act has been passed which will pave the way for them to apply for the Indian citizenship, they are a worried lot as Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has announced that his government will not allow the implementation of CAA in the state.

Falak Raj, who along with his 10 family members left Sialkot and came to Jalandhar way back in 1998, said he was not happy the way the opposition parties are protesting against the CAA. He asked if where would the Hindus go if they are not allowed to come to India.

"Leaving Pakistan was not easy. Almost all people who were forced to flee were compelled to leave their homes and belongings. They (in Pakistan) had told us to choose either Pakistan or religion. Some were even compelled to beg money. We have constantly struggled for 22 years to see this day," Falak Raj said, adding, "I want to ask those opposing CAA if Hindus will not go to Hindustan, where should they go."

Daya Lal, a Pakistan immigrant who represents the Pakistani minority immigrants, appealed Amarinder Singh not to block the CAA.

"Those opposing the CAA should be ashamed. Captain [Amrinder Singh] is a soldier. You [Amarinder Singh] understand the pain of immigration when it is forced. Please help us get the citizenship now," Daya Lal said. He and his family left Pakistan in 1979 and was one of the lucky Pakistanis who were given citizenship rights in 1987.

Football industry worker Kamla Devi also appealed Captain Amarinder to help them get citizenship rights.

"PM Modi got the law passed. We are happy but also saddened as he [Amarinder Singh] has refused to implement it [in Punjab]," Kamla Devi said.

While the ruling Congress government in Punjab is opposing the implementation of CAA, the NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has asked the Union government to include Muslims in the Citizenship Act. Akali Dal has cited an example of Ahmedia Muslims who were also subjected to persecution.

"Akali Dal should clear its stand on CAA. While in Parliament, Sukhbir Badal praised the Act, he went against it after coming out," Punjab minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said.