The unsettling yet peaceful refuge of the Buddhist monastic community in the heart of the city in Majnu ka Tila is also home to a population of Hindu minorities from Pakistan.
A few kilometers away from Civil Lines, across the banks of the river Yamuna, we fond this ‘Narnia‘. Majnu ka Tila has been a safe space for approximately 700 Pakistani-Hindu refugees. Though basic amenities are available, the stamp of ‘Pakistan‘ still haunts them. According to a report filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), “About 120 families of approximately 700 Pakistani Hindu nationals who came to India on a pilgrimage visa from 2011 to 2014 are staying in jhuggis and semi-permanent structures.”
These families are struggling to make ends meet as job opportunities evade them. According to reports, Aadhaar and PAN cards were made accessible to them based on their current address, however, Indian citizenship continues to evade them. The Ministry of Home Affairs proposed simplified procedures to grant citizenship to marginalised displaced communities seeking refuge in the country due to religious persecution, but there has been no transduction of words into action.
BJP President Amit Shah in a press meet in April 2019 allayed his fears on the Citizenship Bill, saying, “The Citizenship Amendment Bill will come first, and all refugees will be given citizenship. After that, the NRC will be made. Refugees, especially the religious minorities in neighbouring countries, shouldn’t worry.” The State’s nihilist apparatus disrupts the effective functioning of the social discourse.
However, Kejriwal’s attempt to empower the asylum-seekers by installing solar panels has shown a ray of hope to those who have no political security, to a life where their voice has been suppressed, with no right to vote or land ownership. Though there have been attempts to improve the situation, there have not been the ground-breaking changes that are needed.
Living on the promises of the government for a better and secure future, the refugees enter back-breaking labor, into the vicious cycle of poverty and dependence. Currently, they continue to live in jhopdis (slums) and temporary shelters. They are either locked in or locked out of institutions, rendering them with a fractured sense of identity where they still yearn for a place to call home.