Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by parijataka, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 15, 2011
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    While the rich are forced to pay a percentage of profits to Muslim `partners` and live in fear of extortion and kidnappings the poor and lower caste are systematically being converted to Islam and Christianity `for a better future`. From the blog of a Pakistani Hindu.

    Persecution: Soft target
    By Amar Guriro

    Rajesh Kumar, a young Hindu businessman from Shahdadkot town of Kambar-Shahdadkot district in northern Sindh, runs many enterprises such as a grocery shop, a medicine store and a rice processing factory locally. Both the shops are his own property besides the piece of land where he has set up the rice processing factory. But he has to pay 5 per cent of his total income to a very powerful Muslim landlord in the area — in the name of ‘partnership’.

    Northern Sindh, infamous for incidents of honour killings and tribal wars, many of which have continued through generations, is a haven for criminals and armed robbers who also kidnap any affluent individual for ransom. A tiny population of Hindus, most of which are businessmen, has had to bear the brunt of these internal feuds and criminal activities. The biggest issue is the ‘organised’ way in which ‘bhatta’ or extortion money is collected.

    Even though the businessmen in the region have resigned themselves to the extortion ‘routine’, this hasn’t earned them any social protection. For protection from small-time dacoits and criminals, they have to engage a powerful tribal lord — a Muslim, obviously — as their business partner without an iota of investment on the latter’s part. The most commonly known rate of this ‘partnership’ is 5 percent of the total income.

    Jakhranis, the most powerful tribe in the district, have ensured such ‘partnerships’ in a ostm

    According to an independent estimate, the Hindu businessmen of Larkana division alone pay Rs280 million annually in the name of bhatta to powerful Muslim feudal lords of the area. every business in the town. As in the much-known extortion cases in Karachi, here too everybody knows everything but no one will say anything on record. This would mean putting their lives on the line.

    Hindus are also targeted by the criminal elements, not just because of their religion but also because they happen to have money and are supposed to be easy prey.

    Almost every male member of the upper-class Hindu families in the seven districts of Larkana and Sukkur divisions of northern Sindh is a businessman. They have a complete control over the wholesale market in these areas. Sindh being an agricultural province, almost everyone here needs agricultural inputs. So, rural Sindh is seen as a big market for items related to agriculture — be it seeds, fertilisers or pesticides. Even when the farmers, growers or landlords are selling their agricultural products, crops or grains, they have to deal with Hindus who exercise control of the market. There are grain merchants who deal with shops where they sell agricultural inputs and also buy agricultural products.

    Besides, these Hindu businessmen have wholesale grocery and medical stores, cloth market and a lot of them also own vast agricultural land and work as growers. They also run cotton ginning and rice processing factories.

    The influence of these Hindu traders on the local business can be gauged from the official data provided by the Sindh government, according to which there are 750 small rice processing units and factories in Sindh out of which 340 are in Larkana and Kambar-Shahdadkot districts only and 80 per cent of these are owned by Hindus.

    It means they generate private sector jobs, too, in the area. Interestingly, when it comes
    According to the data compiled by the Rice Millers Association of Larkana, these 340 small rice processing units and factories provide 1,800 permanent and 7,000 seasonal employments to the locals, majority of who are hiring, they prefer Muslims — from different powerful tribes!All the five districts of Larkana division including Larkana,
    The figures from independent sources put it down to 94 cases of kidnapping in the five districts of Larkana division and 14 in Sukkur division since January 2012. Many of the people kidnapped are Hindus.Kambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Kashmore along with two of the five districts of Sukkur division — Ghotki and Khairpur — are said to be home to criminal elements who conduct kidnappings for ransom as a ‘business’.
    However, the recent reports of the exodus of Sindhi Hindus from Jacobabad to India are not true as only a few families have migrated; that too, not because of incidents of robberies or extortion but because an increasing number of cases where

    their girls were abducted and forced to convert to Islam.Over the last six decades since the partition of the subcontinent happened in the name of religion, the Sindhi Hindus, who made up 51 per cent of the total population of Sindh in 1947, are now merely 6 per cent, because they continue to migrate to other countries in general and India in particular. There are hundreds of examples of Hindu families from Sindh who initially packed off a few members in their community in order to test the waters.

    Being a Hindu majority country, India is home to most of their sacred places which are visited annually by Hindus from Pakistan also. Due to diplomatic tension between the two nuclear neighbours, the visa regime is so tough that most

    Hindus prefer to make religious pilgrimages in groups. Some of them even have their visas extended and stay back to check the market. When they find a good market in India, they want to shift base with their entire family, but are forced to come back.

    Forced to flee

    Hindus are forced to shift base in order to save their daughters from abduction and forced conversion to Islam

    Satish Kumar, a father of four daughters, is a grain merchant in Ghotki city. After the recent reports of kidnapping of Hindu girls in his town, he thought of shifting to Karachi. Belonging to the upper class Hindu community, Kumar has a family business which is related to agriculture, which means he shall not be able to continue with his business in Karachi. “It seems difficult to move permanently from a place where I was born and raised, but I’ve no option,” he told this scribe over the phone from his native town.

    Kumar is not the only one who is thinking of shifting base for the protection of his daughters. The Hindus in northern Sindh started leaving their ancestral villages and towns following reports of a number of cases in which young girls had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. And, when the courts, the police authorities and even the parliamentarians did not pay heed to their pleas, the Hindus decided to migrate. A number of them left for other countries and only a few headed to India.

    As Dalits are not rich people, like the upper class Hindus based in northern districts of Sindh, they are spared by the kidnappers or the extortionists and don’t have to face forced conversions either. But they have their own set of miseries. They are poor and illiterate, work as landless peasants and become victims of blackmailing at the hands of their landlords. Technically, they are supposed to share half of the cost of the agricultural inputs on the lands owned by the feudal lords while working as farmers. When the crops are ready they would get 25 per cent of the total income. But despite working day in and day out, along with their entire family, they do not get enough food even.

    Besides, recently, many madrassas were opened in these areas and they are slowly being turned into missionary schools where people are brought in to enter into Islam for a “better future”. Christian missionaries are also operative in these areas but they keep a low profile. According to a Pakistan Hindu Council estimate, the Christian missionaries, most of which run free-of-cost hospitals and schools in Kunri, Khipro and Mirpukhas cities for the lower caste/Dalit Hindus, have already converted over 160,000 Hindus to Christianity since the year 2002.

    “Christian missionaries are also building colonies for these lower caste Hindus and providing them with food, job opportunities and education for their children,” says PHS chief patron D M Maharaj.

    – Amar Guriro

    “The judiciary must decide to deal with the criminals with an iron hand”

    — Amarnath Motumal, leading human rights lawyer and council member of the HRCP Sindh chapter

    According to Amarnath Motumal, leading human rights lawyer and council member of the HRCP Sindh chapter, on an average 10 to 14 Hindu girls, most of them teenagers, are abducted and forced to convert to Islam (in Sindh).

    In an exclusive interview with TNS, Amarnath identified 455 such cases over the course of seven months since January this year. “The actual number [of these cases] is even higher,” he said. “Though, very often the incidents are left unreported as the victims’ families fear for their lives.”

    Replying to a query, Amarnath said there is no single method in place to collect these data. “Some of the cases have been reported in Sindhi newspapers, or regional press, as we call it. Sometimes we get data from the courts where the victims’ families have complained against the police saying that the latter is not registering their cases. There are times when an individual or a Hindu organisation writes to us in detail, seeking our help.”

    Amarnath said that till 2010, Karachi was ‘known’ for such incidents — “An average of 20 girls a month were reported as abducted. Today, the number of such incidents has come down considerably in the metropolitan city, but it’s the northern districts of Sindh that are making headlines.”

    When asked as to how the situation improved in Karachi, he said that most cases had been reported in Lyari town which is home to a large number of poor Dalit Hindus. As the local Muslims resorted to kidnappings of their girls, the Hindus began to move to other places in and around town. Of the 5.5 million Pakistani Hindus, 91 per cent belong to the lower-caste or Dalits.

    In recent times, only a few cases have been reported in the media, but the ones that did find column space in newspapers went on to become high-profile — for instance, the cases of Rinkal Kumari, Dr Lata Kumari and Manesha. Amarnath believes it is “because of the difference of social status. A majority of the girls who are abducted comes from underprivileged Dalit families with no access to the high authorities or to the media. But when the girl is from an upper-class Hindu family, her case gets a great deal of coverage in the media and it also grabs the attention of the President of Pakistan who would then constitute a special committee on the matter.”

    Amarnath admitted that every time he takes up such cases in the court, he is discouraged. “The groups involved in kidnappings are so powerful that even the judges can dare not go against them. I have personally received threatening calls from people asking me to close the cases. But, at the end of the day, the judiciary must decide to deal with the criminals with an iron hand and issue fair judgments, if it means to bring down the number of such cases.”

    – Amar Guriro

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