Gulzari Lal Sharma:
I had a small shop. Things began getting worse before our eyes. I got really scared when they began enforcing the pagadi rule. They asked us to have some sort of red patch in our headgear. I do not know what purpose it would have served. All our neighbours knew we were Hindus. And we hardly left the village. It was really scary.
There has always been the shadow of the Taliban in the recent times in my place. In October it got really worse. The women in the family were harassed a lot. I had a little land and sold it for a decent price when I decided to leave the place.
The one thing I considered was the future of my children and when I thought about it, it was clear to me that they can't grow up in that environment. As we left, we were really worried about reaching Peshawar. Not just because we were Hindus, but that stretch was generally such a dangerous one and totally in control of the militants, even normal Pakistanis were scared to take that road.
We somehow made that distance of 250 km and reached Peshawar. From there we went to Lahore where we waited for our visas. The moment we got it, we left on the Samjhauta Express. Our permits are till 2010. Some have it till 2011.
These things are all in the hands of local authorities. All I hope for now is that we are not harassed when the duration lapses. We are pleading the Indian government for a right to stay here and hope we get it.