(RNS/ENInews) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has appointed a three-member Senate committee to look into reports that nearly 250 Hindus have fled to neighboring India to escape harassment and discrimination.
The panel is meant "to instill a sense of security" in the Muslim-majority country's Hindu minority, according to The Times of India. According to reports, Hindus from troubled Balochistan and Sindh provinces traveled to India on 30-day pilgrim visas granted by the Indian government.
Pakistani officials detained the Hindus at the border for hours on Aug. 10 and made them sign declarations that they would return to Pakistan.
However, some of the Hindus told Indian media that they would prefer to stay on in Hindu-majority India to escape harassment at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists.
"The crime level against Hindus is worsening here. We informed the media about our people traveling to India," Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, chairman of Pak Hindu Council, told ENInews on Monday (Aug. 13).
"Our people are facing serious problems of kidnapping, conversions and forced marriages," said Vankwani, speaking after a meeting of Hindu leaders.
Hindu families told The Times of India that Islamic fundamentalists extort money from Hindus, kidnap young Hindu women, convert and marry them.
More than 96 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people are Muslims, while Christians and Hindus account for about 1.5 percent each.
"We fully support the Hindus in this," Joseph Francis, founder director of CLAAS (Center for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement) based in Lahore, told ENInews. "Both the Hindu and Christian communities are undergoing the same suffering. Christian women are also kidnapped, converted and married as second and third wives."