Citizen Issue |

Are We Home Yet?

Shuchi Kapoor & Natasha Raheja

The 1947 Partition of British India yielded the largest mass migration of people in contemporary history, resulting in the movement of close to fifteen million people across the newly minted international borders of India and Pakistan. Pakistan was created as a homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims, while India was established as a secular nation-state and de facto haven for Hindus. This demarcation of territory and identity remains unresolved to this day. Border disputes and questions concerning itinerant populations that struggle

to cross these borders—for work, religious pilgrimage,
and kinship—continue to inform the geopolitics of the subcontinent. Today, an estimated 2,000 Pakistani nationals cross the India-Pakistan border and migrate into western India each year. Many of these Pakistanis are scheduled-caste or tribal Hindus working as daily-wage laborers who believe they are caught on the wrong side of the border. They imagine going to India as a religious pilgrimage or return to their ancestral homeland and enter the country with short-term visit or pilgrimage visas to visit specified cities where family members may live or where there are holy sites of worship. Subsequently, many over-stay their permitted stay in India and express their fear of return to Pakistan, where they face religious discrimination and economic insecurity.

This piece offers insight into how people with conflicting modes of belonging continue to navigate across territorial borders and social boundaries in the South Asia region.

Shuchi Kapoor is a self-taught documentary photojournalist, whose interests lie in regimes of representation and visual cultures. Her work focuses on humanistic stories and documentation spanning across regions, cultures, and mindsets in India.

Natasha Raheja is a documentary filmmaker and Postdoctoral Associate of Anthropology at Cornell University.

All images from the series Are We Home Yet? Pakistani Hindu Migration to India
Rajasthan, India 2015