Tag Archives: Dalits

Dalits’ dream of Pakistan

BY TAHIR MEHDI

A group of Pakistani Dalits in Mirpurkhas gathered at their town hall recently. They vowed to initiate a movement to assert their distinct political identity, and fight for their communities’ rights.

The word ‘dalit’ literally means ‘oppressed people’; it has been in use since the 19th century to describe communities that fall outside of the four-caste Hindu hierarchy. These ‘outcastes’ or ‘untouchables’ have been subject to horrendous discrimination, in all spheres of life, for at least the past 2,000 years.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1257165

The fading soul of Pakistan’s diversity – By Zeba T.Hashmi

Around the Lahore Central Railway Station, narrow alleys are like a maze, with hotels and restaurants for passengers coming in from across the country. The visitors from Cholistan were staying in one such building. Their common attire said nothing about their significance. The assertiveness is in their eyes spoke of the hardships they face in the middle of the uninhabited deserts. Through the music they make, they bring their world to life with songs of love, mysticism and sad partings.

A group of singers from the Bheel community were my hosts in one of the rundown hotels where they were staying. A few moments after I entered the room and greeted them, there was music all around, the sadness of the room shattered by the elaborate melodies they made from the stringed Yaktara and the colorful Raanti instruments. Such was the beauty I found in that tiny, unfamiliar room that came to life with music and lively stories, in spite of interruptions by the hotel manager who kept asking us to tone it down.

The members of the Hindu Bheel community are mostly landless, and they are known for their melodies and beautiful traditional musical instruments, ornamented by elaborately embroidered bright colored fabrics. They make their stringed instruments with animal hides and wood, hollowed pipes that are magic for the ear. They are known for their distinctive voice quality and the art of story-telling. Their women wear glass bangles all over their arms and wear colorful Cholis and Ghagharas.

Continue reading The fading soul of Pakistan’s diversity – By Zeba T.Hashmi

Who gets to certify “caste based” discrimination?

By

Hint: It is not the forward community.

I moved this up as a separate article since this is something I feel very strongly about. The Pakistani forward community (as evidenced from BP members) has sworn hand on heart that “caste based discrimination” does not exist in Pakistan. This is because they say so, thus it must be the truth. The reality it seems is something else altogether.

Ms. Kalavanti Raja of Sindh-Pakistan, the active member of Sindhiyani Tahreek presented the case of Pakistani Dalits in International Consultation Meeting of IDSN in Nepal which got a huge importance and space in international IDSN Publication as detailed below.

Plight of Dalit of Pakistan

The Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN) has been instrumental in raising public awareness of caste discrimination in Pakistan in 2011 and creating a stir in the media. Media reports on caste discrimination have included issues such as bonded labour, untouchability, kidnapping and forced conversions of Dalits.

Media have also reported widely on discrimination in flood relief work in Pakistan following new monsoon rains, causing one of recent history’s worst disasters. Dalit communities were denied access to relief camps because of their caste and were forced to live under the open sky. The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardai, has spoken out against this discrimination against Dalits in the on-going flood relief work saying that any discrimination in extending rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to anyone on the basis of caste is unacceptable. Nonetheless the discrimination continued throughout 2011. PDSN has worked to support Dalit victims of the flooding and bring their plight to the attention of authorities, International NGOs and agencies involved in relief operations.

2011 also saw an increased visibility of Dalit women in Pakistan and Ms. Kalavanti Raja joined PDSN as Coordinator of the women’s wing of the network. Ms. Raja participated in several events, including the Dalit Women’s conference in Kathmandu, a South Asian Dalit conference in Bangladesh, and the IDSN International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination and council meeting in Nepal, where PDSN Coordinators also took part. She spoke at several events and monitored Pakistani media attention to the issue of caste discrimination, with regular updates to IDSN on the situation.

Continue reading Who gets to certify “caste based” discrimination?

Pakistan’s minorities fail to see progress

By Isolda Agazzi

GENEVA – Since the restoration of democracy in 2008, Pakistan has undertaken steps to uphold human rights, but the situation of minorities has only worsened, according to a group of non-government organizations. Dalits – formerly referred to as “untouchables” are in the worst state, facing both religious and social discrimination, they say.

Continue reading Pakistan’s minorities fail to see progress

Call to elect Dalits representation in parliament

Call to elect scheduled caste people

UMERKOT, Oct 13: Representatives of minorities and civil society have called for giving scheduled caste people representation in parliament and putting in place an inexpensive election system to ensure election of honest persons, good governance and religious harmony in the country.

They were speaking at a consultative workshop organised by the Forum for Human Rights Pakistan in collaboration with the Centre for Peace and Development here on Saturday.

Mirchand Sahjani and Popat Kolhi of the Bheel Intellectual Forum said that members of minority communities had no representation in the assembly and those who were elected to reserved seats for minorities had no interest in resolving people’s problems because the seats were sold to the highest bidders. They did not feel themselves answerable to people because they did not have any constituency or the electorate, they said.

HANDS activists Bansi Malhi and Sawai Malhi denied discrimination of non-Muslims by Muslims but said the country’s constitution was discriminatory towards minorities as it did not allow any non-Muslim to become president, prime minister and Chief of Army Staff.

Hindus and Muslims lived in perfect harmony in Umerkot and Tharparkar, Sindh and they attended one another’s weddings and religious festivals. In fact, upper-caste Hindus looked down upon scheduled caste Hindus and poor Muslims, they said.

Continue reading Call to elect Dalits representation in parliament

Pakistan’s Dalits denied flood relief because of caste discrimination

– Desperately needed shelter and relief items are not reaching hundreds of thousands of Dalits who are left homeless after the severe flooding in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Dalits are being discriminated against because their caste relegates them to the bottom of the social order in Pakistan and ‘untouchability practices’ exclude them from sharing the same shelters as other members of society.

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardai, has spoken out against this discrimination against Dalits saying that any discrimination in extending rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations to anyone on the basis of caste, creed or religion is “Unacceptable” and has called for a report from the provincial government on the situation. ….

Read more → IDSN

Flood relief by caste, creed!?

– By Zofeen T. Ebrahim

Excerpt;

…. But, Ram saw something in the camps which left him disturbed. “The school I teach in has been turned into a camp for the flood-affected people, but when three Hindu families from the Kohli caste sought refuge there, they were denied it.

When the Kohli families insisted on staying, one of the men from the displaced Muslim community began contemptuously urinating in full view of the Kohli women and they had little choice but to leave,” said Ram. “They treat dogs better than they treat us human beings,” said Ram in anger and helplessness.

Moolchand Sakromal, a Hindu government official who tried to give refuge to the Kohlis, says low-caste Hindus are probably the “most neglected” of Pakistan’s minorities.

“It’s a double whammy for them – they are poor and then they belong to the scheduled caste,” says Vikio Rajwani, a Hindu and head master at the government primary school. …

To read full report → DAWN.COM

PAKISTAN: Floods in Sindh-the ‘untouchables’ waiting to get a touch of relief efforts

– An article by Fizza Hassan published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

As Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) predicts more monsoon rains in the coming days, the worst victims of rains and breaches in a monsoon-swollen Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) in Badin district — the Pakistani low caste Hindus (Dalits) of the districts were denied to get in to relief camps for being ‘untouchables.’

In the last five weeks when monsoon-swollen drains and LBOD burst its banks and caused recent history’s worst ever catastrophic disaster, the so-called traditional bigotry continued to run deeper than the floodwaters.

Despite torrential rains majority of these Hindu Dalits in Badin district continue to live in open sky as they were not allowed accommodation in the private/self-built relief camps of Muslims.

What added to the tragedy was the federal government’s ban on NGOs and international donors to work in these areas for ‘security reasons.’ As the government itself initiated relief operation much later, the religious extremist organizations that started relief operation in Badin have completely ignored these Dalits or Harijan, which means ‘Children of God’.

Cahnesar Bheel, a Dalit farmer and resident of Goth Gomando Bheel, Taluka Golarchi [Shaheed Fazil Rahu] is one of around 700 Dalits of his village who have no choice but to live in their submerged village with his nine children.

‘Our village is between the two drains and during rains both burst and inundated our village from either side, so we rushed to a nearby relief camps set inside a government school but the tenants did not allow us to live inside the camp, so we came here and started living under open sky,’ Bheel told media.

Bheel said the people living inside the camps had said them that they are Shudra, so they are not allowed to live with Muslims. His village comprises on 80 households with 700 population and all are Dalits.

A civil society activist, Ameer Mandhro sharing his views said, ‘This is not the only village of Dalits in the district that have no roof on their heads but there are countless other Dalit villages including villages on Khoski road, Seerani, Lonwari Shrief and other areas where Dalits are living this way because they are not allowed a place in the relief camps.’

Same happened with Pibhu Kolhi and 50 other residents of his village, who rushed to a relief camp set inside a government school in Tando Bagho, were not allowed to live in the camp after heavy rains.

However, humanity in still prevails within some hearts as a man inside a camp allotted one isolated class room to a few Dalit flood victims. As Kolhi said, ”The isolated class room is away from the main building where only two families are living while the rest of the village is living in open despite continued heavy rains.” He said some philanthropists came to provide food in the relief camp, but they were not given, so despite rain they are cooking food in open sky.

In the emergency situation the role of the minister for minorities affairs Mohan Lal Kohistani seeks attention. Kohistani, despite such a large number of the Hindu population being a part of flood victims, has not done anything so far for their relief. ….

Read more → Asian Human Rights Commission

INJUSTICE / DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DALITS OF PAKISTAN

INJUSTICE / DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SCHEDULED CASTES OF PAKISTAN

To – Honourable Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Islamabad.

by Kalavanti Raja Menghwar, Khairpur Mirs

First of all, for current performance of Judiciary I can shortly say “BRAVO, WELL DONE AND CONGRATULATIONS”. Now, some facts about the subject are hereby stated for sympathetic consideration and order.

The castes doing laborious jobs were considered as the outcasts as per Hindu Caste System in Sub Continent for thousand years and remained deprived of social, educational and economic growth. And during 20th century reformers sympathetically named all depressed castes as Harijans, Dalits, Adivasis, Achhoots etc.

Continue reading INJUSTICE / DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DALITS OF PAKISTAN

Forced conversion and migration of Dalits in Thar Desert

Zulfiqar Halepoto

On March 12th, 2010, Friday, a group of civil society leaders, layers, writers and legislators (Pitamber PPP MPA, Advocate Javed Qazi, Asho Thama HRCP representative, Punhal Sario, Verji Kolhi, Zulfiqar Halepoto and others) visited the camp of displaced dalit families in Mithi (Thar Desert).

Continue reading Forced conversion and migration of Dalits in Thar Desert

The plight of Scheduled Caste Hindus in Pakistan

PILER and TRDP in collaboration with Karachi Press Club are organizing a launching ceremony of a report “Long behind Schedule” on the plight of Scheduled Caste Hindus in Pakistan Speaker Sindh Assembly Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuhro will launch the book. Leading civil society activists, writers, researchers and intellectuals will share their views on the report. This is an open invitation for all. September 5th, 2008- Friday 5PM @ Karachi Press Club.

Sep 3, 2008