Former PTI MLA Baldev Kumar seeks political asylum from India

Id card of Baldev Kumar, a former MLA from Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party
Baldev Kumar with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan [screengrab]

Kabul(Afghanistan) 10 Sep: Baldev Kumar, a former lawmaker from Barikot (reserved) seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) assembly, reached India with his family on Monday. 

The 43-year-old politician has no intention to return to Pakistan. He alleged: Minorities are treated badly in the neighbouring country and “Hindus and Sikhs are killed daily.

Baldev Kumar, a former MLA who is aghast with the atrocities on minorities in Pakistan, has demanded political asylum from India. The interesting aspect is that he belongs to PTI, the ruling party of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and has been an MLA from Barikot reserved seat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Baldev Kumar is presently in India on a three-month visa. A few months before he arrived in India on 12 August. He had sent his wife and their two children to their relatives in Ludhiana’s Khanna.

He said he was forced to move his family out of Pakistan as religious minorities were being persecuted in the country. 

Kumar, who is currently staying in Khanna along with his family, declared that he does not want to go back to Pakistan. He said he will formally seek political asylum in India as he fears for his family’s safety.

He said that minorities in Pakistan are forced to live in an atmosphere of panic. Baldev Kumar, who raised the voice of minorities in the Assembly, said that he had high expectations from Imran Khan, but after his coming to power, the situation has worsened and the oppression has increased on Hindus and Sikhs.

Baldev Kumar said he was falsely accused in the 2016 murder of Soran Singh — the then MLA of his constituency Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. 

Soran Singh, a Sikh activist and the assistant on minorities to the then provincial chief minister, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in 2016. Soon after Singh’s murder, Baldev Kumar was declared as the MPA-elect by Pakistan’s Election Commission.

As per Pakistan law, if the MLA (MPA in Pakistan) dies, then the candidate who is second in the same party is made the MLA. However, 36 hours after he was elected, Kumar was arrested for Singh’s murder. The police claimed that Kumar murdered Singh to take his position. Kumar denied allegations and said he was falsely accused in the case. He was, however, kept in a prison for two years while his seat remained vacant till 2018.

In 2018, Baldev Kumar was acquitted in the case due to lack of evidence. Surprisingly, he was acquitted in the case two days before the term of the assembly ended. 

Baldev Kumar married Bhavna, a resident of Khanna in Punjab, in 2007. He was a councillor in Pakistan at the time of marriage and later became an MLA.

Kumar’s wife Bhavna is still an Indian citizen. However, their two children, 11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, are Pakistani nationals. His daughter Riya is suffering from Thalassemia and is undergoing treatment.

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