Pakistani Hindus get right to stay longer in India

published on October 20, 2009

Why knot? Pakistani Hindus get right to stay longer in India

Lokpal Sethi | Jaipur-Daily Pioneer

Minority Hindus of Pakistan have won a major battle as the External Affairs Ministry, in consultation with the Home Ministry, has agreed to give them a six-month visa to visit India, instead of the present limit of 30 days.

Some time back, Hindu Visthapit Sangh, an organisation of migrated Hindus from Pakistan, had submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, urging her to direct the External Affairs Ministry, to relax the rule of 30-day visa to the Hindus of Pakistan.

Over 10 lakh Sodha Rajputs are living in Umarkot, just across the international border from Barmer. Under Hindu religion, marriages within the same gotra are not allowed. So these Sodha Rajputs look beyond the borders to wed their sons and daughters among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, belonging to other gotras of the community.

They come to India on a valid visa in search of a match for their children. “Thirty days is too short a period to search for a bride or groom, as well as to perform the marriage,” says Hindu Singh Sodha, head of the organisation. “Now, we have been informed about the relaxation in the visa rules and have passed on the information to our Hindu relatives living in Pakistan”.

In the past, owing to strict visa conditions, newly-weds could not stay in India beyond a 30-day limit. Now under the relaxed rules, they can prolong their stay in the country.

A large number of weddings take place every year between the Hindu families in India’s border districts of Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer, and in Rahimyarkhan and other border districts of Pakistan.

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