On November 30, 2011, Nahar Singh read in the newspaper about a group of 145 refugees from Pakistan who were living in deplorable conditions in Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tila. A day later, Nahar Singh was at the “refugee camp” and totally unprepared for what he saw.
“These people were living in such miserable condition and on top of that there was fear of being evicted. It made no sense to me that a bunch of Hindu people who are here in India to seek asylum, because they were being hounded in their own country, are being driven off,” he recalls.
Nahar Singh, an ex-Service man and currently employed with the Central Excise and Customs, first conducted a havan (religion ceremony) for their well-being and wasted no time to organise help. “The government was saying they will send them away, but a few organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Arya Samaj networks took the lead to find out how these people could be helped. I volunteered to adopt children so that they could have a place and reason to stay.”
Two day later, Nahar Singh was at the Timarpur police station finishing paper work that would enable refugees to stay in his property in Bijwasan. “I had tenants in that house; I asked them to leave and made room for the refugees. Since March this year, 450 others have come to stay here,” he says.
Food and other necessities are provided to the refugees by the community. “My own salary is not enough, but we get a lot of support from the villagers, non-government organisations, VHP and whoever wants to chip in. We will continue to do what we can,” he says.
His neighbour Narayan Singh, who had come to oversee a medical drive being conducted for the refugees by Sewa Bharati, is angry at the discrimination against these refugees. “There are refugees from all across the world here, but instead of helping these Hindu refugees, the government wants them out. It is no more a secret that for political mileage and to increase their vote bank some political parties have made it possible for ration cards and voter ID-cards to be provided to those who illegally entered from Bangladesh; and here is a group of people who are seeking shelter, want our help, but are being turned away,” he says.
A little distance from where he sits, Dr. Omwati Singh in a make-shift ambulance is giving out free medicines and antiseptic creams. She is part of Seva Bharati, an organisation affiliated to the RSS. “We come here a few times every week to check on these people, most of the children have stomach problems and skin disorders, then there are expectant mothers, who have to be given nutritional supplements. We’re doing what we can,” she says.
The community’s efforts to help are being graciously acknowledged by the refugees. Most of them claim they get enough to eat and are looked after.