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In Jaipur, a Pakistani girl faces big test: How to take medical exam

2 years after arriving in Jaipur from Sindh province, young woman confronts citizenship barrier in realising her dream to be a doctor

Written by Mahim Pratap Singh | Jaipur |
May 28, 2016 10:31:48 am
hindu migrants pakistan, pakistani migrants india, pakistan migrant problems india, hindu persecution pakistan, pakistan migrant girl india Mashal cannot appear for the all-India pre-medical test — the entrance examination for admission in undergraduate medical course — because of her status as a foreigner. Express

TWO YEARS after her parents moved from Sindh province to Jaipur in an effort to escape alleged religious persecution in Pakistan, as also to make their daughter a doctor, 20-year-old Mashal is seeing her dream fall apart — bit by bit.

If the CBSE class XII results announced last week was a time of celebration for the family, with Mashal scoring 91 per cent, the days in the immediate aftermath are back to being tense. She cannot appear for the all-India pre-medical test — the entrance examination for admission in undergraduate medical course — because of her status as a foreigner.

“There are only two nationality options in the (application) form: Indian, and Overseas Citizen of India/Non-Resident Indian. I am not in either category,” she said.

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According to Mashal’s doctor-parents, they decided to quit their jobs in Sindh and move to India after the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre. Having arrived in June 2014, the youth and her two siblings were admitted in a private school — the family is living in Jaipur on a Long-Term Visa.

Her parents said they have administrative jobs at a private hospital in the Rajasthan capital, and cannot afford to send Mashal to a private medical college. “They (private colleges) charge a minimum Rs 1 crore in donation. So if she doesn’t get admission in a government medical college, we don’t see how she can become a doctor,” her father said.

He said the family has knocked all doors — the ministries of External Affairs, Health and HRD included — but to no avail.

The Rajasthan government says it “can’t do much” to help the family since the all-India entrance test is conducted by the Centre. “So I am writing to the Union Health Ministry about this, requesting them to provide some sort of reservation to families of Pakistani Hindu migrants, so that they can avail of these opportunities,” Rajasthan Health Minister Rajendra Rathore told The Indian Express.

For Mashal, the move has already meant losing an academic year, as the family made the journey when her Level A exams (under Cambridge IGCSE curriculum, equivalent to class XI) were due. She does not want to waste another year, and wants to sit for the centrally-organised all-India NEET-2 entrance exam scheduled for July 24.

“If I don’t get clarity on this issue in the next two or three weeks, I will have to study something else. I have already lost a year and spent a lot (of money) on coaching. I can’t afford to lose another year,” she said.

Seeking the government’s intervention in her case, Hindu Singh Sodha of the Seemant Lok Sangathan, an organisation working with Pakistani Hindu migrants, said, “First the government allows them to seek refuge here to escape religious persecution, and then treats them as Pakistani nationals. If the government can’t provide them opportunities, they should not be allowed to come here.”

For Mashal’s parents — they did not want to reveal their identities, fearing for safety of family members and relatives back in Pakistan — the labels just do not seem to end. “We continue to live under labels: Hindus there (in Pakistan), Pakistanis here (in India),” her father said.

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