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Why 70 Hindu Families From Pakistan Migrated To Delhi’s ‘Mini Tibet’

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By Asmita Sarkar:

The Delhi Government recently met with a delegation representing the 70 Pakistani Hindu refugee families who have been living temporarily in New Aruna Nagar, popularly known as Majnu ka Tila, in north Delhi. The refugees had been living in the area without water and electricity. The delegation met Arvind Kejriwal at his recent ‘Janta Samvad’, a senior government official said. He also pointed out that a team had visited the refugee families on the bidding of the Chief Minister. “Government has decided to provide electricity to these families by installing solar power panels at their areas since they are living in temporary structures. Besides, water tankers have been placed there,” the government official further informed.

For representational purpose only. Image source: United Nations Photo
For representational purpose only. Image source: United Nations Photo

Majnu Ka Tila’s serpentine lanes and its many storeyed buildings house refugees from Tibet. Contrary to what many of us believe, this area isn’t some newly formed refugee haven, and has accommodated refugees since decades. The first round of refugees that settled there were the migrant workers from British era who had been employed in the construction of Connaught Place in the early 1900s. Around half a century later, some Tibetan refugees who had come with Dalai Lama to India in 1959 settled in this place. It is now also called ‘Mini Tibet’. The second round of Tibetan refugees came to Majnu Ka Tila from the border areas of India and China after the 1962 Sino-India war. Legend has it that the place is named after a mad Sufi mystic whose devotion had brought Guru Nanak to him.

In light of the ability of Majnu Ka Tila to house displaced populations from various conflict zones, the area saw a new group of immigrants who landed up here eight months ago. 70 Pakistani Hindu families had shifted base from the Sindh Province in Pakistan due to the violence meted out to them. One such case involves a spate of violence that came in the wake of a rumour during Holi that a Hindu man was seen burning a Quran in Larkana, Sindh Province. Burning the Quran is a crime under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Subsequently, a Hindu Temple and a Dharamshala was set on fire by a mob and the man was taken into protective custody.

Whether India, Bangladesh, Pakistan or Myanmar, South Asia has seen a resurge of ethnic violence, that is propelled by the various governments which are held down by religious extremists, who are bent on “othering” minorities by excluding them on the basis of language, ethnicity or religion. The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar who were recently forced to migrate as their country refused to acknowledge them, had been turned away from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Their country systematically forced this community out, unlike the Pakistani refugees. Sindh Province has always been a peaceful space for the minority – Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Hindus – however there has been massive unrest against the minorities within the country but the violence is localised and penalised by the government, imprisoning those who were responsible for the burning of the Dharamshala in March 2014.


Delhi Government’s decision to accommodate the Pakistani refugees without fuss, is commendable and in line with the humanitarian Bombay High Court ruling from February this year, which said that water must be provided to illegal slums because availability of water comes under the ambit of Right to Life of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The refugees from Pakistan, like the Tibetan refugees, have had to forego their property and livelihood in the land they were born in, only to scale across borders into another country to set up a home, and an income source for the sustenance of their families.

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  1. Chirag Aidasani

    Arvind Kejriwal should be lauded for this effort. However I would like to state that India is no where in the league of nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Mayanmaar when it comes to discrimination against Minorities.

    Yes, India is not immune to such attacks, but there is no ‘state-sponsored’ genocide or discrimination going on here unlike Pak, Bangladesh or Mayanmaar against Minorities.
    I belong to the Sindhi community in Indore and we have a huge refugee camp here where the people narrate to us various tales about the discrimination they faced whilst in Pak.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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