Girls' kidnappings fuel Hindu exodus to India - Pak stops 130 people

Immigration authorities today stopped 130 Pakistani Hindus from crossing over to India at the Wagah land border following a controversy over reports of an exodus of the minority community from Sindh province.

The Hindus were told by immigration officials that they could not cross the border despite having valid visas as they did not have "security clearance," sources said.

The immigration authorities had reportedly received directions from the Interior Ministry not to let any Hindus go to India even for pilgrimage, the sources said.

The Hindu families reached Wagah at 8am but most of them were not given clearance to cross the border till noon.

Only two families from Karachi that had "no objection certificates" were allowed to cross over to India, the sources said.

However, Federal Investigation Agency official Waqar Haider said in Lahore that his organisation was not stopping anyone possessing valid travel documents from going to India.

The kidnapping of a teenage Hindu girl, Manisha Kumari, and her reported rape in Jacobabad city of Sindh province on August 7 has caused widespread concern in the minority community - report say of an exodus of some 250 Hindus from the region has taken place.

Kidnapping of Hindu girls has become rampant in Pakistan over the last few years.

Hindus from Sindh and Balochistan had decided to migrate to India because of forced conversions, extortion and kidnapping, TV channels reported.

The Hindus were travelling to India on 30-day visas for a pilgrimage to Haridwar and Vaishno Devi but many were not expected to return, the channels reported.

Taking notice of these reports, Interior Minister Rehman Malik yesterday said the Hindus would be stopped from going to India.

He said they would be allowed to travel only after a probe by the FIA.

Malik claimed the reports of the migration of the Hindus were part of a "conspiracy to defame Pakistan."

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