|Produced By||:||Nikhil Singh Rajputt|
|Directed By||:||Manvendra Singh Shekhawat|
‘STATELESS’ is a documentary short film depicting the case of Pakistani Hindus who have fled religious persecution in Sindh Province of Pakistan. They are living in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) currently and seeking citizenship in India.
The documentary explores the conditions of the Hindu families which fled the atrocities in the hands of Jihadists in Sindh state of Pakistan; there were numerous families whose daughters were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam, many had their properties snatched and family members murdered, when they got no justice from authorities and government in Pakistan, these families somehow managed to flee Pakistan to reach Jodhpur.
The documentary also shows the plight of these persecuted refugees while they start building their life back from zero in India with traumatizing memories still haunting them.
Today they are waiting to be accepted by India, as they have nowhere else to go.
Plight of refugees in South East Asia has always been a hot topic. No country in the neighborhood is a signatory to the Refugee Convention of 1951 or Refugee Protocol of 1967. This lack of institutional framework has resulted in refugees looking exclusively at UNHCR for resettlement in western countries. In my documentary ‘Himalayan Refugee’ on Pakistani Ahmadis seeking asylum in Nepal, UNHCR was the only option. Countries in this region have only accepted refugees on an ad hoc basis and always from specific ethnic groups. India has only accepted Tibetans for long term, accepted Sri Lankan Tamils and Bengali Hindus for a short while. Indian govts have largely ignored Pakistani Hindu refugees living in India and in some cases deported them back. But no govt in the region had any policy framework for refugees from the region except CAA.
On Dec 11, 2019 Indian Parliament passed Citizenship Amendment Act – CAA which expeditated granting citizenship rights to religious minorities from India’s neighborhood. The act was widely criticized by a religious minority group in India, political commentators, popular film actors and from global thought leaders. Most of these commentators clubbed CAA with another act ‘NRC’ which wasn’t even tabled in the Parliament and sought to repel CAA and a non-existent NRC.
CAA resulted in violent protests across North India and culminated in Delhi Riots. Numerous TV debates, articles and protests ensued but not one of them invited the intended beneficiaries of the CAA act. No one talked to Pakistani Hindus. No effort was made to talk to Pakistani Sikhs/Christians either, most of whom have sought asylum via the UNHCR route so far. But Pakistani Hindus are littered across north India, many are at Majnu Tila – Delhi.
As a filmmaker this crucial gap in representation was disappointing and it meant we had to amplify their voices. It is our attempt through this film to include ‘voices of refugees’ only. We do not make any comment on a non-existent NRC; we do not make any comment on the Indian Govts definition of who are religious minorities in it’s neighborhood. We make no comment on the violent protests or Delhi Riot. We only see CAA and the resulting violence through Pakistani Hindus.
STATELESS is a human interest story that consciously excludes any other point of view except the refugees. As a filmmaker my approach is that we hear only the refugees and see the world exclusively through their eyes. To these refugees the opinion of thought leaders sitting in their posh offices doesn’t matter and hence they don’t matter to the film.
Since filming various other ethnic groups seeking asylum in India have arrived and are finding refugee under CAA; a huge inflow of Afghan Sikhs have also come to India.
// Hoping to get these refugees a life of dignity through my film.
The documentary keeps the audience hooked on till the end with its gripping narrative.
Stateless was shot after an intensive research and study of the plight of refugees in India.
The film with its stunning visuals, brings to the forefront forward a much needed discussion.
An incredible film that hits you hard and opens your eyes to the fate of Hindu refugees who had to flee Pakistan after years of oppressions.
Excellent direction and soul stirring narrative! Must watch to understand the lives of Hindus without a home.