Hardwari Lal, 13 family members:
I had a general store in my village. I live in a region where the Hindus have slowly disappeared. By the time I left, there was only one other family (which has also moved to India.) I have four sisters. My main concern is to find a match for them. I want to marry them to Hindus.
Apart from this, my main worry is the land I lost. My family owned a considerable amount of land worth several lakhs. As things started getting worse, there was a lot of pressure on me to sell the land to the locals.
The government was helpless. The central authorities in Peshawar could not do anything to help me. It was the local authorities who called the shots.
The local tehsildar (revenue officer) struck the deal like he was supporting me, but finalised it for 10 per cent of the original price. I had no other go but to concede.
The local authorities are nothing but political agents for the radicals in these regions.
They used to come knocking and say no photos, no pictures, no idols. We were forced to remove all the family photos and idols of gods though it was inside our house. That is when I realised how different these same people were earlier. Samay ka prabhaav padta hi hain… (Time takes its toll)
It is not like the liberals have disappeared and radicals have moved in. It is the same neighbours who used to be pillars of strength in the past year who are behaving differently today. That is what pains me the most.
The only Hindus who are better off are those in the Shia-dominated areas. There Shias protect the Hindus like their own against the Sunni fundamentalists. One thing I observed is that the Sikh people are somehow getting along. I admire them for that.