Taliban terror forces Hindus to flee Pakistan 

Vishal Rambani , Hindustan Times
Amritsar, March 09, 2009
First Published: 01:42 IST(9/3/2009)
Last Updated: 01:58 IST(9/3/2009)

Their forefathers made a choice 60 years ago and stayed back in Peshawar 
despite Partition. And today their unhappy descendants - a group of Hindu 
families - have been forced to flee by the rising influence of the 
fundamentalist Taliban.  See popup

"I think our forefathers committed a mistake by staying back in Peshawar during 
Partition and we are now correcting this mistake so that our coming generations 
will not suffer what we faced in Pakistan," said Vijay Kumar from Peshawar in 

Kumar sold off his house and every household item he could, and left for India 
with his wife and children. They are part of a group of five families - 16 men, 
16 women and three children - that reached Amritsar recently. They are seeking 
Indian citizenship.

The Taliban have won major successes recently and wrested crucial 
administrative concessions for themselves in the northwest frontier areas of 
Pakistan such as the Swat Valley. They are now closing in on one of the biggest 
urban centres in those parts, Peshawar.

Posters carrying the Taliban's messages and rulings have begun popping up all 
over, and are specially disconcerting for these Hindu families in villages 
around Peshawar - directing men not to shave and women not to go to school.

"The Taliban are approaching Peshawar," said Jagdish Sharma, a hakim 
(practitioner of local system of medicine) from Peshawar. "We've heard stories 
of molestation and cruelty against women there."

Sharma sold a family business started by his forefathers and left with his 
family. "I don't know what was the situation during Partition, but the present 
situation is so bad that no one can breathe with freedom. I don't want to bring 
up my children in a war-like situation."

And they are not going back now. Hardwari Lal, resident of Orkzai, about 180 km 
from Peshawar, said, "I was running a grocery shop which was forcibly taken 
over by the fundamentalists, who also captured all our property."

Laxmi Narain simply went out of business because of the restrictions imposed by 
the Taliban. He ran a cosmetics store and got no customers after a while 
because women were forced to wear burqas - "demand nose-dived". He sold his 
store and left.

But Narain is not bitter about it, only practical. "When law-enforcement 
agencies are feeling helpless, how can a common man feel secure? We are not 
blaming the government, but it's just that terrorists are calling the shots now.

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