Seven years ago, Dharamveer Solanki (pictured below), a Hindu, left his home in Pakistan’s Hyderabad city, never to return. When his train crossed the border into India, Solanki said he felt happier than ever before.
Left: Phulwanti, 17, a Hindu refugee from Pakistan, video calls some of her relatives in Pakistan as her brother Eashwar, 13, adjusts a sheet that is used to protect their home from rainwater, at a Hindu refugee settlement where they live near Majnu ka Tilla. Right: Phulwanti, 17, a Hindu refugee from Pakistan, video calls some of her relatives in Pakistan, on the roof of her home at a Hindu refugee settlement where she lives near Majnu ka Tilla in New Delhi, India, June 10, 2020.
The flow of migrants has stopped temporarily as borders have been sealed to control the spread of the coronavirus.
But many remain desperate to cross, Solanki said. They often come on 25-day pilgrimage visas and stay on until they get citizenship.
Solanki is still waiting for India to grant him citizenship, as the process has now been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak in the country. He was unaware that there was a World Refugee Day, but when told by Reuters that it would fall on June 20, he was very clear what he would like to see.
While confirming they belonged to the VHP, the men declined to give their names. Refugees told Reuters later that the VHP men had told them not to speak to the media.
“We are trying to build a life here,” said Solanki. “These people are just helping us.”