Interview with Dr Omendra Ratnu

Lending a Helping Hand to Hindu/Sikh Refugees from Pakistan

Dr Ratnu, first of all, an express thanks from Jagrit Bharat for speaking to us via this interview.

Q: We begin with the most obvious query: Being a successful ENT specialist, when exactly did it enter your mind to start working for the cause of rehabilitation of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan? How and where did it all begin?

My professional commitments do not prevent me from being sensitive towards our society. I realised that Hindu interests have been neglected by the Government as well as the Hindu leadership and felt compelled to take up the cause of the well-being of Hindus. Though I along with a group of people were already working in a small way interacting with refugees from Pakistan, knowing their needs to help and provide some basic help and health care. But to build an institutional set-up we would have to start from scratch.

We derived inspiration from the declaration in the 2014 manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi that, “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here”, which was also adopted in the agenda of BJP Rajasthan under the current Chief Minister, Smt Vasundhara Raje. We felt encouraged to start an NGO ‘Nimittekam’ dedicated to this purpose, as also other areas of hand-holding for the underprivileged, which acts as an interfacing agency between the refugees and the government.

Various notifications and circulars were issued by the Central Government in the course of their present term which facilitated the process, giving us a better chance to work towards betterment of the lives of Hindu refugees in India.

Q: The name of your NGO is ‘Nimittekam’. The word “निमित्तेकम्” means to be an instrument of divine karma. What does the adoption of this name signify for you in relation to its mission?

Every sacred work starts with good intentions. However with time some selfish people enter who start making it a mode for furthering their own interests. I think of us as “nimmit” (instruments) of the Ultimate Doer of All Deeds, the Performer of All Action, that is Lord Krishna (for me) known by others by various names. This manner of thinking keeps our focus on the true object of our engagement and does not allow the human ego to interfere. ‘Nimittekam’ will remain and keep striving towards its goals even when the people through whom it came into being have ceased to exist.

Q: Could you explain in brief the process involved in settling Hindu and Sikh refugees in India and the anticipated time frame involved?

The Citizenship process involves a waiting period of 7 years. However, they get long term visas immediately on arrival. Earlier they faced enormous hardships. They had to visit the office of Home Ministry regularly. They required police permission for moving from one district to another. The current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh have brought in major changes through various notifications. Now Long Term Visas (LTV) are granted to refugees for maximum 5 years which is a big relief for them. They can move from one district to any other (with the exception of border districts of Barmer, Jaiselmer and Bikaner) within Rajasthan without any police permission. They require Police permission only for moving from one state to another. The complicated process of citizenship has also been simplified.

But by far the most significant gain has been, that now the District Collectors of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer are authorised to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees, if the paper-work is clear as per law. The refugees need not go to Ministry of Home, Delhi for grant of citizenship.

Q: Do you feel frustrated by the ignorance and apathy of the average Hindu in India about the plight of Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh? What do you think is the main reason for this?

The main reason for the ignorance and apathy is absence of will at the leadership level. Hindu Leaders never speak up against the atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. PM Modi is the first person to have spoken in their favour. He is however not a Hindu Leader but a political leader, who belongs to a political party that professes ‘secularism’. But this concern should have been raised at the highest levels in international fora by the Hindu leadership, considering it is the biggest genocide that remains unacknowledged.

Displaced Pakistani Hindus in a demonstration call attention to their plight
(Source: NewsGram)

On an average, 3 Hindu girls are kidnapped by jihadis daily in Pakistan, and this fact I state from the Human Rights Commission Report of Pakistan, of 2014-2015. 1400 FIR’s were registered in Pakistan for kidnapping of underage Hindu girls in a single year. State oppression is so immense in Pakistan that the Pakistan Human Rights commission has now stopped publishing their reports and their website is not working. The tragic case of kidnapping and forced marriage of Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari which came in public eye is only one of thousands of such cases. She disappeared subsequently, possibly committed suicide or suspectedly murdered.

Q: What should be done to increase awareness about the plight of Hindus/Sikhs of Pakistan and Bangladesh and to make common Indians realise the importance of your fight for their rights?

A public discourse should be evolved by organising seminars and debates backed with scientific data, documents and research papers, and building pressure groups in each city of India, to keep this issue in the fore. The much diminished Hindu community of Pakistan (1.85% of the population) comprises mostly communities described as backward castes (Bhil, Māli, etc). Barely 1/5th of a total population of about 39 lakh Hindus, belong to the so-called upper castes, who somehow manage to escape molestation by Jihadis by paying extortion money. The maximum brunt of Islamists is faced by the less-privileged poor among Hindus and most Hindu Girls kidnapped belong to these communities.

Q: There is a class of “liberals” in India, the likes of actress Priyanka Chopra, who shed copious tears for Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar and canvass for their rehabilitation in India, but ignore Hindu/Sikh refugees who escaped persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh. For the benefit of the young people who look upon such people as idols, can you explain the difference between these two categories of refugees, with sights on India as a civilisation? Do you think it serves us to allow Rohingyas to settle in India the same way as Hindus/Sikhs from other countries?

The Indian Constitution has a provision for Hindus and Sikhs of Pakistan and Bangladesh allowing them to come and settle in India. They have been included in the Citizenship Act, 1955 as their parents were citizens of undivided India. Rohingya Muslims have no such legal validity and are outsiders. They have no ties with India, neither in terms of culture nor common history. We bear no responsibility towards them. But we are responsible by our Constitution for the Hindus/Sikhs trapped in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Q: Do you perceive a change in the attitude of the government towards Hindu Refugees compared to previous governments since the Narendra Modi led NDA Government took charge in the year 2014?

The advent of Modi Government has certainly brought about a massive change benefitting Hindu refugees. Earlier no one used to help them on account of various hurdles and fears. We can work much more effectively for them on account of will at the level of government with the present dispensation.

Q: Besides rehabilitation of Hindu/Sikh refugees, ‘Nimittekam’ also states the purposes of working to “integrate Dalit sahodaras (brothers) with mainstream Society”, “provide medical care to every needy citizen of the country” and “running orphanages for forsaken children of our society along the lines of gurukulas”. Can you explain the importance of these missions and your accomplishments so far?

There has been demographic inversion in the Indian subcontinent to the detriment of the Hindu population. The Population of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh has fallen drastically and it is significantly reduced in India by at least ~6%. Our mission is to check this trend by creating hospitable living conditions for Hindus/Sikhs fleeing persecution. The second mission is to help the ca. 40 lakh Hindu orphans and street children by rehabilitating them in bālāshramas (shelters for children) to give them a chance to survive and make it in life. The third mission is to bring up the lot of under-privileged and marginalised sections of Hindus, and as equal inheritors of India’s civilisation and motivate them to take lead in the Hindu upsurge.

 We at ‘Nimittekam’ currently run a program for sponsoring Hindu orphans, through an organisation called ‘Human Life Foundation’. The cost of sponsoring each child is Rupees 6,000 per month. They attend regular school and are inculcated with Hindu sanskāras (values), instructed in tradition (Vedic mantras, yogāsanas, Gāyatri, etc.)

 We plan to extend the program to include more Hindu children in future and envision starting such bālāshramas for Hindu children in every district of India, who are otherwise left to struggle for survival on streets, easy prey for missionaries and Islamic gangs – an aspect completely ignored by the Hindu leadership. A concerted effort is needed in this direction, to set up institutions (orphanages, hospitals, higher study institutions etc.) which work exclusively for Hindu rights.

Dharmansh’ is our noble concept whereby we ask Hindus to donate a minimum of Rupees 100/- per month to organisations like ‘Nimittekam’.

Q: In respect of the mission to integrate ‘dalits’: there are lot of left-leaning groups that claim to work for them but instead spread anti-Hindu venom among communities. How does ‘Nimittekam’ propose to counter their propaganda?

‘Nimittekam’ organises weekly meetings of Valmīki Samaj, Khatīk Samaj, Koli Samaj and other Hindus backward communities. These are typically followed by recital from Hindu epics and ‘Hanuman Chaalisa’ reinforcing their identity and connect with the Hindu ethos.

During the recent controversy around the Supreme Court’s decision for altering the SC/ST act, we organised fasts in areas of Hindu ‘dalits’ and other communities, for Hindu Unity and opposed dilution of the Act.

We want to instil pride in them as being part of Hindu society, making them feel one of us, by eating with them, sharing happiness and resolving their grievances. The apathy of Hindus towards the backward sections is what provides space to leftist demagogues to further their subversive agenda.

Q: How many Hindus/Sikhs from Pakistan have got citizenship till now through your efforts?

The number is about seventy-four. The process of granting citizenship to Hindus/Sikhs was halted for last ten years due to various issues and complications. The process re-started this year due to our efforts. There was a backlog as citizenship was not granted to anyone in the last ten years. Citizenship is now being granted in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jabalpur, ‘Karnavati’ (better known as Ahmedabad). It is granted now in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) due to the efforts of Yudhistir-ji Maharaj of Shadani Darbar. He is a Sindhi by origin doing valuable work and has opened the doors of his āshrama to Hindu refugees from Pakistan.

Recently, along with Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) we organised “Visthapit Hindu Sammelan” (Convention for Displaced Hindus) in Jaipur, which brought together 18 organisations from all over the country, to hold discussions on various issues related to the Hindu refugees and citizenship.

An office of ‘Nimittekam’ will soon be established at Jodhpur, which is an arrival point of Hindu refugees. About 1000 Hindu Refugees each month come to Jodhpur from Pakistan. There are at present about one-and-half lakh refugees living in Jodhpur under tough conditions. They cross the border with legitimate visas and Jodhpur is their first station.

Q: A question on a somewhat different topic: You speak with conviction on various issues such as bhakti, adhyātma, meditation, etc. One topic you express yourself on often is Bhagwan Shri Krishna and the Bhagwat Gita. How do you see their relevance in our times?

I see myself in a relationship with Shree Krishna through ‘karma’ (action surrendered to His purpose) the primary teaching of the Bhagwad Gita, and the thought behind the name ‘Nimittekam’. I recall a passage therein where Arjuna asks Shree Krishna, “What do you expect from me?”, and Krishna replies: Oh Friend! Be my instrument.  You are my instrument in this dharma yuddha. All these people are going to die. I want to establish dharma in this war through your medium.

Another key lesson for me is contained in the shloka: “न मे पार्थास्ति कर्तव्यं त्रिषु लोकेषु किञ्चन | नानवाप्तमवाप्तव्यं वर्त एव च कर्मणि ||3.22 || (“There is, O son of Prithhā, no duty whatsoever for Me [to fulfil]; nothing remains unachieved or to be achieved, in all the three worlds, nothing unattained that should be attained. [Yet] do I abide in action.”)

To be an instrument in the Higher Purpose is therefore my motivation for using social media platforms and I eschew frivolous interactions on these, instead try to spread awareness and sensitising people towards the purpose of dharma through these media.

Q: Who have been your ideals and inspiration in life?

Sri Aurobindo is the one from whom I derive great energy. I was guided in spiritual and dhārmic pursuits by a friend, Dr Pariksith Singh, who also derives his inspiration from Maharshi and Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo. It was he who encouraged me to establish ‘Nimittekam’.

Q: You are also a gifted singer and harmonium player. Your singing is a blend of bhakti and passion and you have performed in concerts. Please tell us more about your singing passion and its beginning.

Yes I do compose as well as sing and play the harmonium. I am a bhajan singer and find great solace and joy in singing bhajans of saints of bhakti tradition from Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bengal, Gujarat and other parts of India.  I have made an album called ‘Abheepsa’. I have also sung and composed 8 ghazals in another album “Khushboo ka Safar”. Through the blessings of Mā Saraswati, I had a sense of music since childhood and gained knowledge and developed my singing mostly through self-study, without formal training.

Q: How do you balance a successful professional career while finding time to work towards charitable causes?

Twenty Fours hours in a day are enough. Multi-tasking in the age of internet is not really that tough. One has to set priorities according to life aims, and for me it is dharma. Endless pursuit of riches does not satisfy me when I find before my eyes that dharma is diminishing, my land is being torn apart by inimical forces. I have three main focal points: ‘Nimittekam’, My Family and Music, all of which rejuvenate me and give me a purpose in life. I have no taste for Bollywood and Cricket, as I consider them compromised to lobbies that pump in money to destabilise India. I am fortunate to have been well-supported by my family.

My wife is also a Doctor and has been a pillar of strength. She is a thorough professional and hence it allows me certain leverage to devote more time to my calling towards dharma.

Q: You have in the course of your work observed and interacted with many Hindu organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Hindu Mahasabha, Sanatan Sanstha, and others working for various Hindu causes. What in your opinion will it take to align these organisations to a common purpose, to form a united and formidable force to effectively represent issues critical to Hindu survival, like Hindu refugees, demographic challenge, dire situation of Hindus in various Indian states, etc?

Hindu organisations should meet and exchange views among themselves in a regular, formal way, and bring together intellectuals (like Rajiv Malhotra) who understand the “game” and workings of the leftist lobby, jihadis and evangelists. There is at present lack of cohesiveness. Individuals who successfully run their own organisation do nothing to build a movement. Our spiritual gurus are neither aware nor attuned to present a challenge, a critical, well-informed counter to Abrahamic faiths, unlike religious heads of other religions who do not fight shy of attacking Hindu dharma at every opportunity, from the superstitious assumptions and absolute point of view of their religion (e.g., ‘idolatry’, ‘devil worship’). Many of them are personality cultists who cannot look beyond building individual following. They are not committed to dharma.

We are losing the narrative. And in this information age the ‘dharma yuddha’ will be fought in internet. It is an imperative to gather strength in the information media space.

Hindu leadership has to first accept that there is a clash of civilisation with other religions by shedding tired and fake taglines of “sarv dharm sambhav” and wake up to the reality of the ideological war that is upon us as a civilisation.

Q: In conclusion, what would be your appeal to the Hindu Community, various political parties of India with respect to the issue of Hindu/Sikh refugees from Pakistan? How can a normal Hindu contribute in your fight?

My first and foremost appeal to the Hindu Community would be that they should accept the fact we are facing a big crisis and this is a fight for our civilisation. The bare minimum a Hindu can do is to contribute Rupees 100 per month for Hindu orphans. I would appeal to the Hindus to be more sensitive towards the less unfortunate among them, to help needy Hindus, create a healthy ecosystem so that anti-Hindu forces do not find a lacuna to take advantage and cause rifts among us.

Dr Omendra Ratnu in an interview with Swapnil Hasabnis

Published: July 04, 2018

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Jagrit Bharat is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Jagrit Bharat and Jagrit Bharat does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.