Hundreds of Pakistani Hindus who arrived in India on pilgrimage visa between 2011 and 2014 are living as refugees in semi-permanent structures in New Delhi's Yamuna bank regions, according to reports.
"About 120 families of approximately 700 Pakistani Hindu nationals who came to India on pilgrimage visa from 2011 to 2014 are staying in jhuggis and semi-permanent structures. The land under their occupation is nearly 5000 square yards," read a report filed before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) accessed by the Times of India.
The findings were part of a plea on encroachments, both human settlement and felling of trees, on the Yamuna riverbed near Gurudwara Majnu Ka Tila which has threatened the river's ecosystem. The report was followed by officials from various government institutions including the Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority and the Central Pollution Control Board.
The NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed DDA to remove the illegal settlements and file an action taken the report.
Reports suggest that many refugees have managed to get identification including Adhaar cards, PAN cards as well as open bank accounts based on their Majnu Ka Tila address. Some children have also been admitted to government schools and others have also established small-scale shops on footpaths.
While the settlement does not have access to electricity, it gets access to drinking water through common taps.
Last month, a former member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) of Pakistan and minority leader, Baldev Kumar, sought political asylum in India, citing persecution of the minorities in the country.
Religion-based tensions in Pakistan came to light after a Sikh priest's daughter was allegedly kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam through marriage with a Muslim youth at Namkana Sahib near Lahore.
Kumar has said that violence against minorities in Pakistan has increased after India abrogated the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir by Article 370.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had attempted to trigger hostility in an address at the International Sikh convention in Lahore. He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of "victimising Muslims and Christians in India" and asserted that it will lead to "targeting Dalits and Sikhs".
The ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan have raised issues of minority rights, public safety, terrorism and pro-Khalistan activities.