They can't climb social ladder without ID proof

They can't climb social ladder without ID proof

Without identity papers jobs are hard to find, schools turn away kids

With no Indian identity, it’s tough going for the refugees. Their daily meal is rice and pulses, mostly donated by organisations or brought by their Bijwasan village benefactor Nahar Singh from his farms in his ancestral village in Haryana.None of them has got a job anywhere despite efforts.

“Anywhere we apply for a job, they demand identity proof, which we don’t have. Many of our relatives are selling vegetables grown in the farms of residents of the village. But this opportunity is rare and only a few refugees have got a livelihood,” says Lal Chand, who crossed the border a week ago with his family and relatives.Some of the Pakistani Hindus are hired as daily wage labourer in farms in neighbouring Haryana for a few months. After harvesting, they will be sent back to Bijwasan.

Some lucky ones get jobs in a metal welding factory in Faridabad, but after a few days they had to leave their job because of the same problem.

“A social activist from Faridabad arranged some jobs for us in a welding workshop. For a couple a days I worked there and thought that everything was going to be okay. But suddenly the owner of the company started demanding identity proof and other documents like high school certificate, PAN card and others. I had to leave the job and I am unemployed now,” says Mohan Das, 18.

Mohan completed high school in Pakistan and wanted to study further in India, but he says schools here denied admission since he had no identity proof.

“Refugee children can study in government schools till class 9, but no school allows admission in class 10 and above. School authorities demand certificates for Indian citizenship,” he adds.

Some sangh parivar organisations are helping them financially, but for families with six to seven members, it is not enough for even a hand-to-mouth life.

“Our future is so uncertain that we can’t sleep peacefully at night. Suppose these organisations stop helping us, or Nahar Singh asks us to vacate his property, what will we do then? Where will we go, what will we eat? We are just demanding citizenship; we don’t like taking food and shelter for free. We want the Indian government to give us a chance to be part of this country,” he adds.

Language barrier

There is language problem as well, particularly for children who studied Urdu and Sindhi back home. 

“Kids are facing a hard time in learning a new language. The schools here are either English or Hindi medium, and both languages are alien to us. We are also studying Hindi with our children for better communication skills in India,” says Punnu Ram.Illiterate refugees prefer to stay back in their shelter homes to study Hindi.
 Social organisations provide them books and other educational material. “No one understands Sindhi here. If we talk in Urdu, people don’t understand every third word,” he adds.