Centre to reply on Pak Hindus asylum plea

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today sought response from the Centre on a PIL seeking grant of asylum or Indian citizenship to 151 Hindus from Pakistan, who face danger of deportation following expiry of their pilgrimage visas.

The High Court asked the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs to respond to its notice by February 29, 2012 on the PIL filed by Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha on the issue. "Let a notice be issued to the Centre (Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs) for February 29," a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said. The court was hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Rakesh Ranjan, General Secretary of the Mahasabha in which it stated that 152 Pakistan nationals entered India on September 7 this year in two batches on valid visas granted by Indian authorities to enable them to come on pilgrimage here. One Pakistani national has died.

Senior advocate Bhim Singh, appearing for Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, said 151 Pakistan nationals are facing the imminent danger of being deported back to Pakistan and, moreover, the Indian Government was not considering their representation for grant of either citizenship or asylum here as they do not want to go back. "The Pak Hindu nationals have also moved the petition to the President of India, the Prime Minister and National Human Rights Commission seeking asylum/citizenship for the reasons that their lives are under grave threat in Pakistan.

"India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the present situation demands urgent attention of the government of India to provide due protection to the persons of minority community from Pakistan," the petition said. The court, after taking note of the plea. directed the government that the Pakistan nationals, also including some teenagers, be not deported back till it decides the petitions.