World Refugee Day is not more than a cruel joke with over 25, 000 refugees living in different parts of Rajasthan for the last 20 years, without basic rights. They have been allegedly humiliated and insulted by the successive governments as their appeals to grant citizenship, on humanitarian grounds, were repeatedly rejected.
Refugees, the majority of them are Dalits and tribals, were forced to leave their homes and hearths from Sindh and adjoining areas of Pakistan due to atrocities and brutalities committed against them. These refugees have heart-wrenching, tragic and painful stories about humiliation and discrimination. There is no one to highlight the unending plights of these helpless people.
Entered India with a hope to live a respectable life
"It is all due to on-going atrocities and discrimination these refugees have taken shelter in Rajasthan and Gujarat but still a large number of them are living with rights", Hindu Singh Sodha, social activist and a crusader for the rights of South Asian refugees, told International Business Times, adding, "these refugees have taken shelter on this side of the border to live a respectable life"
"There are about 25,000 refugees from Pakistan living in different areas of Rajasthan, who are not getting citizenship. These refugees have been settled in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer areas for the last many years and living in abject poverty", Sodha informed and demanded that rules should be relaxed on the humanitarian ground to grant them citizenships.
Earlier denied vaccination without Aadhar card
The woes of these refugees can be gauged from the fact that they were ignored in the COVID vaccination drive as these refugees don't have Aadhar cards. After some members of their community were infected with the deadly virus, a couple of refugee families approached the nearby health centers to get themselves vaccinated but were denied the same because an Aadhar card was a must for inoculation. Despite being a vulnerable lot, authorities were not ready to include them in the vaccination drive due to the Aadhar issue.
Only after Court's direction refugees included in the vaccination drive
"Due to directions of Rajasthan High Court, vaccination of Pakistani migrants started first in Barmer on June 8 and subsequently it started in Jaisalmer and Udaipur on 9th. Still in Jodhpur where 90 percent of migrants are saying it didn't start yet and it's the hometown of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot", Sodha informed.
Sodha had approached the Jodhpur bench of Rajasthan High Court to get the vaccination for refugees from Pakistan. "We had filed a petition demanding the right to vaccination and security of livelihood of refugees during the second wave of the pandemic", he said and informed that it was only after Court's direction special vaccination drive was started for refugees.
Following the Rajasthan High Court's directions to not exclude migrants or refugees from the Covid vaccination drive, officials in the Barmer district began inoculating Pakistani Hindu migrants sans Aadhar cards on June 9.