Pakistani Hindu refugees in Delhi celebrate notification of CAA rules

New Delhi : Holi came early for Pakistani Hindu refugees living in a cramped settlement near Majnu Ka Tila in Delhi, as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) rules were notified on Monday. Since Tuesday morning, the people living in the refugee camp were seen distributing sweets and playing with colours.

Dharamveer Solanki, regarded as a leader by the Pakistani Hindu community in Delhi, shared his elation with IANS, and said that the refugees would now obtain Indian citizenship after waiting for over a decade.

Expressing immense happiness, Solanki told to media, “I am glad I decided to return to my homeland in 2013. We have been waiting for this for over a decade now. We are extremely happy that we will be finally called Indian citizens.”

Among the jubilant refugees numbering over 500, is Kamal, who has been living in a slum without legal recognition for decades.

“This moment is like a second birth, not only for me and my family but for my entire community and for those who were living here without any authority for decades, ” said Kamal.

Another refugee, Brij Lal, likened the occasion to Holi and Diwali, two of the most celebrated festivals in Hindu culture.

Lal attributed this milestone to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, describing him as no less than an “avatar (incarnation)” for their community.

The implementation of the CAA has been a subject of heated debate since its inception. However, for refugees like Solanki, Kamal, and Lal, it represents a long-awaited opportunity for a better life in their adopted homeland.

The Union Home Ministry on Monday notified the rules for the CAA, paving the way for granting of citizenship to non-Muslims — mainly Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis — facing persecution in neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, who had migrated to India before December 31, 2014.

“Immigrants qualifying for citizenship under CAA will have to submit applications in an online mode, for which a web portal has been created, ” an MHA spokesperson said.

The CAA was an integral part of the BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha poll manifesto and was enacted by the Parliament in December 2019 amid large-scale demonstrations from the Muslim community, backed by Opposition parties.

Monday’s announcement came on the back of Union Home Minister, Amit Shah’s assertions that the CAA would be implemented before the Lok Sabha elections, slated for April/May.