New Delhi: Nearly three years after the plight of a Pakistani Hindu refugee girl made it to the headlines after government schools in Delhi denied her admission due to lack of adequate documentation, nine children of the same origin face similar plight in the capital city.
The children belonging to two Pakistani Hindu families which have recently fled from the Islamic nation facing religious atrocities and have been allegedly denied admission by government schools at Bhati Mines in Delhi.
Prem Kumar, a daily wage labourer who was a resident of Sindh province in Pakistan till the month of July in 2018 fled with his wife and six children to India.
“It is quite dangerous for a Hindu family to raise a girl child. I am the father of three of them,” said Prem Kumar
The father of three girls and three boys child said to Firstpost that numerous incidents of atrocities against Hindus took place in Sindh province before they left Pakistan for good.
“In one incident a grown up Hindu girl was abducted by a landlord. We were never allowed to meet her after that. In another incident two young Hindu boys were killed after they fought against a few Muslim men for eve teasing their sister,” he said.
His wife Devi, who also fled Pakistan with him said that incidents of persecution against Hindus is commonplace in the neighbouring nation the administration hardly paid heed to the complaints raised by the Hindus.
Prem Kumar left Pakistan after his children faced discrimination from schools.
The exodus of Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh to India due to communal persecution is a burgeoning problem for India. As per a BBC report from 2011 till the article published in the year 2015 1,400 immigrants from Pakistan were given Indian citizenship and most of them were Hindus.
There is hardly any data related to the number of Pakistani Hindus who have migrated to India both legally and illegally to India over the years.
Prem Kumar was accompanied by his brother Nazeer and his family with three children. Both the families landed at Bhati Mines, a jhuggi-jhopdi cluster in South Delhi where they have relatives.
But little did they know that the future of their children would remain as dark as it was in Pakistan, as none of them got admission into government schools in Delhi.
“We were told by teachers that it was not possible to admit them as none of them had required documents of age and transfer certificate,” he said.
In many of the schools, Aadhaar card is mandatory for admissions. But to acquire the Aadhaar card they need other documents which many of them do not possess.
“What we have is our Pakistani passports and Indian visas and nothing else as we did not have time to collect other documents when we left,” said Prem Kumar.
But this is not the first time in Delhi when refugee students are denied admission in government schools. Three years back another refugee student named Madhu wrote a letter to the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after she was denied admission to a government school.
The letter received media glare and she was finally admitted after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj interfered.
Madhu, till date remains a source of hope for Prem Kumar, Nazeer and their family.
“If Madhu can get admission without documents why can’t our children. There must be some way out,” says Nazeer.
Their hope is backed by Suhas Chakma, Director of a human rights organisation Rights and Risk Analysis Group, who says that refugee children below 18 years of age have equal rights in India as children of bonafide Indian citizens.
“India is a signatory nation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child. So the refugee children have all the rights including the right to education like any other Indian child. No one in legal capacity can stop them from getting admitted to a school. If anyone is doing it then it is a crime,” he said.
He also added that if any student does not have the required documents than it is the state's responsibility to help acquire them.
Significantly, all the children who claim to have been denied admission are below 18 years of age.
Ashok Agarwal, a leading education activist in Delhi told Firstpost has recently written a letter to the Delhi Chief Minister and Director of Education, South Delhi Municipal Corporation where he says that these children have been denied admission by two schools in Delhi.
“Four of these nine students had to be admitted in Delhi government schools and remaining had to be admitted in municipality schools. Both the schools in their locality denied them admission,” he said.
Delhi government schools normally cover education from sixth to 12th standard.
The four students who have been denied admission in Delhi government schools are Vinot Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Nomita and Muskan.
On the other hand, municipality schools cover education till Class 5. The students who have been denied admission to South Delhi Municipal Corporation Schools are Deepak Kumar, Arti, Ashan, Anil and Sapna.
A teacher with Government Co-ed Senior Secondary School in Bhati Mines said that the parents of the children approached her but they did not have the required documents.
“For admission documents are required. They were asked to get them,” said the teacher who was unwilling to be named.
But Anil Kumar Kispota, the vice-principal of the school denied being approached by them.
“No one approached me for admission. If they apply for admission then we will certainly look into it,” he said.
Shirish Sharma, Director, Education, SDMC said that he has already received a complaint that some refugee students have been denied admission.
“I have already strictly communicated to the zonal offices not to deny any child admission to schools. I have also ordered the principal of the schools in the said locality to admit the refugee children also. As per the Right to Education Act, no child can be denied admission on the ground of nationality,” he said.
Significantly, the Bhati Mines area in South Delhi has nearly, 2,000 families of Pakistan origin who fled communal persecution. Many children brought up in these localities over the years never received any education due to the refusal by schools to admit them.
Saheba who migrated to India from Sindh five years back and settled in Bhati Mines says her sons never went to school as none gave them admission.
“They are grown up boys now and earn their own living by working as daily wage labourers. But they do not know to read and write,” she said.
Updated Date: May 16, 2019 13:44:57 IST