LONDON, World Sindhi Congress delegation participated in 14th session of Universal Periodic Review working group at United Nations on 30th October. WSC delegation was represented by Dr. Hidayat Bhutto and Dr. Rubina Shaikh.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. This year Pakistan was under review on 30th October 2012.
World Sindhi Congress submitted two UPRs on Forced Disappearance and Extra Judicial Killings of Sindhi Political Activists and Violence Against Lesser Known Minorities in Sindh. Both UPRs were submitted on behalf of Liberation, an ECOSOC accredited NGOs. Information from both UPR was referred by a number of countries and became part of UN recommendations.
During UPR review a large number of countries expressed their grave concerns over Pakistan’s Human Rights situation in particularly forced disappearance of political activist, and human rights campaigners. Countries also shown their concerns over forced conversion of religions of young girls and bonded labor practices in Pakistan and called for abolition of death penalty and Blasphemy Law.
“Pakistan has ratified a several UN Human Rights Convents and Treaties, but continues to violate many of its fundamental clauses,” Said Rubina Shaikh, Secretary General of WSC. “International Community is greatly concerned over this lack of adherence during this review process,” she further said.
If only this interview was in English the world would understand the pain of a people of Sindh & Balochistan who have lost 14,000 dead and disappeared youth at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The language of the interview is urdu (Hindi).
The painful plight of native Sindhi Hindu community, which has been under systematic onslaught of government agencies, criminal groups, decadent sardari system and violent clan groups in Sindh. Decades of religious extremism; collapse of judiciary and law enforcement agencies; criminalization and commercialization of political parties in the country especially in Sindh has created an environment where various religious, gender, and ethnic minority groups are thrown under serious vulnerability.
Although it is an unequivocal responsibility of State to safeguard life and property of every citizen but it does not relieve other individuals, groups, and institutions from their moral obligation to fight social injustice and discrimination.
In times when even advanced nations are actively alluring global talent, the most peaceful, law abiding, hardworking, highly skilled and entrepreneurial native children of Sindh are being forced to leave their
motherland just because they happen to be part of a very successful but defenseless community.
We could easily blame others but ultimate responsibility rests with us at the individual and collective level. By sitting on the sidelines or not doing enough we have allowed uprooting of hundreds and thousands of our
best and brightest native brothers and sisters. Unforgiveable failings of human rights and Sindh rights organizations compounded by our individual dereliction of moral duty have created a severe moral crisis of our collective consciousness.
At personal level, I feel guilty of my failure to bring this issue to the front burner of a public discourse within North American Diaspora. Having said that, I am not ready to lose my faith in the basic goodness of human
beings. Together we can still prevent further perpetration of this collective crime against a peaceful community in Sindh.
I hope members of Pakistani media, civil society and Pakistani Diaspora organizations will follow lead in exposing those individuals and groups who are behind religious cleansing of minority groups in Pakistan.
I assure you of my personal efforts in solidarity with the just and moral cause of our Sindhi Hindu brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
About – The writer is a President of Silver Lining International, author of books, rights activist and former president of Sindhi Association of North America.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, August 12-13, 2012.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a 14-year-old girl, from the Hindu religious minority community was abducted by gangsters and forcibly converted to Islam. When a police case was filed against the abductors the girl was produced before a Magistrate’s Court by the gangsters to record a statement that she has embraced Islam as her religion. The irony of the judicial process is that the judicial magistrate has accepted her subsequent marriage as legal in spite of the Pakistan law which does not allow the marriage of girls before the age of 16 years. Her age was forged from 14 to 18 by the police and perpetrators before the judicial magistrate who had never asked for evidence about her age.
The father of the victim received information from the police that girl has been shifted to the tribal areas of the Pakistan, close to Afghanistan border for nefarious designs.
The police took five days to file the First Information Report (FIR) providing good time to the perpetrators to manage a forced marriage. The three young sisters, their mother and one brother of the victim were terminated from the employment from the same factory where their sister was employed because the parents of the victim had mentioned the registration number of the car of the factory in which their daughter was abducted. ….
Hindus have remained a minority in Pakistan since the creation of the country in 1947 when India was partitioned into two separate countries: a new India and Pakistan. Since its inception Pakistan has struggled with supporting a democratic government from being overtaken by a military dictatorship, sectarian violence, and harsh treatment of its minorities including Hindus, Shias, Christians, Sikhs, and several other communities.
In particular Hindus in Pakistan have experienced harsh and severely inhumane living conditions. Kidnappings, physical and psychological torture, rapes, forced conversions to Islam, forced marriages of young Hindu girls to Muslim men, lack of police protection, bonded labor, and religious-based discrimination have become the norm for Hindus who involuntarily became citizens of the newly created Islamic Republic in 1947. Of late the rise in Islamic fundamentalism throughout Pakistan has created a viciously hostile environment, choking Hindus and other minorities of their basic rights to live in the land of their forefathers.
LONDON: Members of the Sindhi, Hindu and Baloch rights organisations held a demonstration in front of 10 Downing Street, the residence of British Prime Minister David Cameron, protesting the alleged kidnapping and forced marriages of Hindu girls in Sindh and against the Lyari operation.
Members of the World Sindhi Congress and International Sindhi Women Organisation (ISWO) were joined by Baloch and Hindu groups.In a petition submitted to the office of the British prime minister, the demonstrators urged the British Government to intervene in the matter as the Pakistani government was showing “apathy” on the issue.
Lahore: Minorities in Pakistan are disturbed over forced conversions and have taken strong exception to the justice system becoming ”an instrument of injustice” in their case, leaders of minority communities have said.
The leaders expressed serious reservations over the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of three Hindu women who were allegedly forced to convert and marry Muslims.
Earlier this week, a bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the women should decide their future, following which they chose to go with their husbands.
Emmanuel Yousaf and Peter Jacob, representatives of the Catholic National Commission for Justice and Peace, underlined the need for a comprehensive review of the issue of forced conversions and a firm stand by the government to uphold justice and human rights.
Referring to the cases of Rinkle Kumari, Asha Kumari and Lata Kumari, who were allegedly forced to convert, Yousaf and Jacob said the apex court’s procedures had become an “instrument of injustice” as the principle of free consent was applied loosely or selectively and in disregard to social realities.
…… When the decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court was released, a commentator on twitter noted that Rinkle Kumari, one of the three females in the case, was showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Neither the commentator nor I have the credentials to administer a psychological diagnosis to Ms. Kumari, now known as Faryal Bibi. However, let us think of the hundreds of other cases that have existed throughout Pakistan’s history where Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians were converted against their will.
Stockholm Syndrome has been described as a condition where an individual is abducted or kidnapped, and begins to empathise with their captor to the point that they defend their actions. In evolutionary psychology, theories have been developed that explain the evolutionary benefit of the Syndrome. When humans lived in hunter gatherer societies, clans of men would continually fight one another, and women would be taken as “victory prizes.” The women who protested their capture were regularly killed, while the ones who adjusted to life with their brutal captors survived.
Therefore, one should examine the case of religious minorities in Pakistan from this brutal, archaic, and outdated perspective. Potential converts are born into a society that subjects them to massive social and institutional discrimination, for public services and employment. Non-Muslims have been subject to murder, rape, or beatings merely for simply being born to a different religion in a nation where the right to spread Islam is more protected than the right of minorities to live in peace. In this environment, when a woman, child, or minority is converted to Islam, they could likely develop Stockholm Syndrome and embrace their new faith as an instinct to survive in a brutal society.
This raises a question that should be asked to the ‘gairatmand.’ Is the benefit of forcibly converting one individual to Islam worth jeopardising the validity of all the converts to their faith? Many say that the justice system is flawed if it mistakenly punishes one man, even when it rightfully punishes thousands. In that light, does the forced conversion of one soul not call into question the thousands of others that may have converted voluntarily?
There should be no societal benefit for belonging to the majority religion, just as there should be no detriment for being a minority. Therefore, one hopes that Parliament can address the societal discrimination at the heart of this issue by passing appropriate legislation. This legislation could thereafter be utilised and enforced through the Court. The Pakistani Constitution recognises the right to religion as fundamental, and despite contradictory laws that discriminate against minorities, a legislation is required to fairly deal with forcible conversions.
KARACHI / HYDERABAD: Supporters of the leftist coalition group, the Sindh Progressive Committee, had a run-in with the Barelvi religious-political party Sunni Tehreek at the Hyderabad Press Club on Tuesday, resulting in the police hauling in almost two dozen activists.
The Sunni Tehreek had been protesting the recent spate of violence in Karachi and had wrapped up the event. The Sindh Progressive Committee (SPC), which comprises the Workers Party, Labour Party, Communist Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, National Party, Awami Party and Watan Dost Inquilaabi Party, held a protest outside the press club against forced conversions and religious extremism.
The fight reportedly started as the Sunni Tehreek supporters alleged that attendees at the SPC’s event had beaten up a man who had stopped them from chanting slogans that they alleged were against religion.
Sunni Tehreek’s protestors went back to the press club and the fight forced SPC event attendees to hide inside the club as the Sunni Tehreek men threw stones and chanted slogans against them. While some female SPC leaders including Professor Arfana Mallah and Sindh University lecturer and activist Amar Sindhu managed to escape, the police cordoned off the area around the press club and rescued the rest. While they had assumed the police would release them, they were sent to the Cantonment Police Station.
The Sunni Tehreek’s Abid Qadri alleged that the SPC had “attacked our man first” and “used abusive language”. Arfana Mallah said their protest was peaceful but they had been attacked by the Sunni Tehreek, who brought “weapons, stones and sticks” and “forced us not to chant slogans”.
According to the police, 23 men from the Sindh Progressive Committee were arrested. The Sunni Tehreek’s Hyderabad General Secretary Muhammad Yaseen Qadri registered a First Information Report (FIR) under sections 148, 147 and 149. Even though the FIR mentions 60 people, only three are mentioned by name – Comrade Iqbal, Allah Bux and Bakhshal Thallo. The Sunni Tehreek and SPC have both claimed their supporters were injured.
At the SPC’s protest in Karachi, activists demanded that Rinkle Kumari and Asha Kumari, the two women who have drawn attention to the rise of Hindu conversions in Sindh, be handed over to their parents. They chanted slogans against landlords, clerics, army generals and extremists and asked that the government separate religion from matters of the state.
Speakers included Yousuf Masti Khan, Nasir Mansoor, Jan Muhammad Buledi, Usman Baloch, Mehnaz Rehman, Comrade Iqbal and Abdul Khaliq Junejo. “We don’t support a state that promotes religious extremism and stifles the environment for other religions. Every man is free in this country and has the right to move freely and perform his religious rituals,” said Usman Baloch.
Hyderabad: The religious extremists show up to throw stones and beat peaceful protestors including children and women and the police arrests the peaceful progressive demonstrators of civil society demanding basic rights for women and Hindus as citizens of Pakistan. They are charging the civil society activists with blasphemy to terrorize them! Sindh is indeed suffering a brutal occupation that turns more tragic and farcical by the day. The following report of the rally to protests forced conversion and kidnapping of Hindu girls by an alliance of Sindhi civil society.
According to the reports, Sunni Tehreek’s extremists came with pick up’s loaded with Stones and attacked the peaceful Rally. Some of the injured were Girls & children. Police arrested civil society leaders Taj Marri, along with his Daughter Paras, renowned leftist intellectual, thinker, writer and activists Bakhshal Thalou and many other activists of civil society . Religious fundamentalists tried to put Hyderabad Press club on fire, and latter GOR Colony police Station was attacked by them. Several hundreds Students of Sindh University came to defend the civil society rally against the religious fundamentalism. Women Action Forum Leaders Arfana Mallah and Amar Sindhu who were in rally tried to dissuade the fanatics, but they insisted on registering charges of TOHEEN-E-RISALAT [blasphemy, a capital offense in Pakistan] against arrested leaders of Sindhi civil society.
According to some informed journalists a secret service agency is working on to create a rift between the People of Sindh and wants to start Hindu- Muslim riots and force the Sindhi Hindu’s to leave Sindh and to put Sindhis in minority in their own motherland. After the pressure of civil society, Women Action Forum’s leader Arfana Mallah and Taj Marri were freed from the lockup of GOR Colony Police Station, Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups 17 April 2012 + facebook
March 30, 2012 – SAPAC, Washington, DC: On 24th February, 2012 , a young Hindu girl named Rinkel Kumari was abducted from her home in a small village in Sindh, Pakistan. It was a full twelve hours before her family discovered where she was. Rinkel, aged 19, had been forced to change her religion to Islam and to marry a young man named Naveed Shah. Her parents immediately filled a first information report and brought her case before a civil judge. The court house was surrounded by thugs and supporters of the Pakistani Peoples’ Party Member of the National Assembly (PPP MNA) who was assisting Naveed. Under tremendous pressure, and obvious duress, Rinkel testified that she had married and converted to Islam of her own will. The judge released her into Naveed’s custody. Unsatisfied with the verdict, the Hindu community in Sindh rallied together to demand justice for Rinkel and other Hindu girls who had faced the same fate.
Asian Human Rights Commission claim girl was lured on shopping trip by friend before she was kidnapped.
Abductors drove her 120 miles before raping her, then forced her to sign marriage papers
Victim managed to escape eight months later, but police refuse to prosecute rapists because they are tied to militant Islam group
By Wil Longbottom
A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for eight months in Pakistan by a man who then falsified marriage documents with her, it was claimed today.
The girl was lured on a shopping trip in Lahore by a friend, before she was driven 120 miles to Tandianwalla and raped by the friend’s uncle in January this year.
Two days later, she was forced to sign papers consenting to marriage with the man and beaten for refusing to convert from Christianity to Islam.
She was then held against her will for eight months, before managing to escape and contact her family.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said the rapists have not been arrested because of their affiliation with a militant Muslim organisation – the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
It claims the police have refused to order a medical check-up on the girl, and have warned her parents that it would be better for them to hand over the girl to her ‘legal’ husband or a criminal case would be filed against them.
An investigation into the kidnapping found the girl’s father reported her disappearance in January and made complaints against her abductors, but police took no action for eight months.
Last month, the girl – who has not been named for legal reasons – called her family from Tandianwalla and told them she had been abducted, but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop.
The girl’s parents travelled to the town and rescued her, before taking her to a local magistrate to give a statement.
The rapists then contacted the police through their religious group and produced a marriage certificate that claimed to show one of them was married to the 12-year-old.
As a result of their complaint, the Christian family has gone into hiding as members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are searching for them.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Hopes for the rapid resolution of a controversy over the conversion of a Hindu woman to Islam that has seized the Pakistani public were dashed on Monday, when the Supreme Court declined to decide the matter for at least three more weeks.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ruled that Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old Hindu student who converted under disputed circumstances last month, should spend the next three weeks pondering her fate in protective custody, along with another Hindu woman in a similar situation.
During an emotional and sometimes rowdy hearing in a packed courtroom in Islamabad, the capital, Chief Justice Chaudhry noted that there had been “serious allegations of abduction and forced conversion” in both cases.
“Both ladies must have an atmosphere without any pressure to make a decision about their future,” he said.
By Hasan Mujtaba (btw, notice that communists and socialists in both India and Pakistan have been more consistent than most in fighting such evils, sometimes at great personal risk)
( I wrote this story about forced conversion of Hindu women in Pakistan of 1994. So far forced conversion of Hindu women nothing has been changed. Even the modus operandi of forced conversions and its operaters remain as the same)…… …… ……… …….
On January 19, a Hindu girl named Daya Bai disappeared from her house in Daharki, district Ghotki (Sindh, Pakistan). She surfaced ten days later outside the deputy commissioner’s office, wearing bridal clothes,and accompanied by several hundred strong gathering (MANY OF WHOM WERE ARMED WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS) led by pirs of Bharchundi chanting Allaho – Akbar. During the nikah (wedding) that followed, Daya Bai’s mother wept inconsolably, repeatedly striking her head on the floor in anguish,”let me meet my daughter even if she is getting married’ she implored but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
For the Hindu community in Sukkur and Larkano, Daya Bai’s disappearance, conversion to Islam and subsequent marriage with a Muslim in suspicious circumstances is not unpresedented occurance. Between January and February at least 3 Hindu girls, Daya Bai from Daharki, Shakuntala from Pano Aquil, and Bhagawanti, the daughter of a Larkano professor were allegedly kidnapped from from their homes at the gunpoint. Of the three, Daya Bai and Bahgawanti converted to Islam and married muslim men whereas Shakunatala’s whereabouts are not known. Shakuntala, allegedly kidnapped from her home by a man named Kalhoro, she embraced Islam and married to someone other than her abductor. Speculation abounds that she may have been sold. The story of the daughter of Koro Mal, Hindu trader from Larkana, is similar. THERE ARE SEVERAL SUCH INSTANCES IN WHICH GIRLS BELIEVED TO HAVE ELOPED WITH THEIR MUSLIM LOVERS ARE NOT MARRIED TO THEM BUT WERE EITHER MARRIED OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE OR KILLED.
The increasing incidents of forcible conversions and marriages of Hindu girls have compelled some Hindus to migrate to India to protect their daughters and family honor. ‘The parents of girls who have met this fate are like the living dead’ says Ghanshyam Das a social worker in Kashmore.
Similarly, as Mukhi Nihalchand, a Hindu community leader in Rohri points out forcible conversion of Hindu men continues unreported and unabated. The conversion at Bharchundi of a Hindu boy from a wealthy Umerkot family sometime back is a case in point. After a while, the boy reconverted to Hinduism and migrated to India with his family.
Harmony minister speaks out: Gill wants tougher legislation against forced conversion
By Qaiser Butt
ISLAMABAD: The minister for national harmony has alleged that about 100 non-Muslims, mostly Hindus girls, were forced to convert to Islam in recent months. The minister, Akram Masih Gill, told The Express Tribune that stronger legislation was required to protect minorities from forced conversions. ….
THE Hindu community, particularly in Sindh, has been in the grip of strong feelings of grief, anger and insecurity for several weeks. Unless its grievances are speedily addressed Pakistan stands to suffer incalculable harm in both material and moral terms.
The issue of Hindu girls’ conversion to Islam and marriage to Muslim men, both transitions alleged to be forced and often after abduction, is not new. Indeed, it has always been high on the Hindu citizens’ list of complaints. What is new is the scale and intensity of their reaction and the large number of their appeals for justice. It seems three recent cases involving Rinkal Kumari, Lata Kumari and Aasha Kumari have unleashed the Hindu community’s long-brewing fears of loss of its religious and cultural identities.
The three cases are not identical in detail. Dr Murli Lal Karira, who belonged to Jacobabad and practised medicine at Suhbatpur, in Jafarabad district, was reported to have been abducted while travelling homeward. Some days later, his niece, Aasha Kumari Karira, who was taking lessons at a Jacobabad beauty parlour, did not return home after her work hours, and was believed to have been abducted. Her whereabouts are unknown.
Dr Lata Kumari, the 29-year old daughter of a medical practitioner from Jacobabad and employed at one of Karachi’s premier medical institutions, was reported to have married a young Muslim man after converting to Islam. Her father alleged that her conversion and marriage took place under coercion after abduction and he moved the high court for redress. The lady denies these allegations. She came to the court when her husband applied for bail before arrest.
The brother of Rinkal Kumari (18) says she was abducted by unknown persons, allegedly backed by an influential MNA. Her family had difficulty in filing an FIR. The next day she and the young man she was said to have married after conversion to Islam were presented in a court at Mirpur Mathelo, while her family had been told to go to a court in Ghotki. The family was not allowed to see her. It is said that she told the magistrate she wanted to go with her family but the latter reportedly expressed his inability to allow a Muslim girl to go to a non-Muslim house and sent her to a Darul Aman. Subsequently she is said to have modified her statement.
One suspects that these cases have provoked an unusual wave of protest because unlike the poor and voiceless victims in earlier cases of forced conversion-marriage affairs, the women now involved come of socially noteworthy families who have some access to electronic means of communication.
Several non-Muslim citizens have argued that these women have been, or are being, forced to accept conversion and marriage under threats of dire consequences to their families if they refuse to surrender.
The state of the common Hindu citizens’ mind is reflected in the e-mail Rinkal Kumari’s brother addressed to the chief justice of Pakistan (copied to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan). He says that Rinkal’s abductors have told her that “if she wants to save her parents’ life she should choose to convert [change] her religion and marry [an] unknown guy…. And yesterday [the] judge ordered that [the] girl wants to change her religion and want[s] to marry …Naveed…. [The] judge even didn’t allow [the] girl to meet … her parents or anybody from her family. There were 500-700 people in [the] courtroom all with guns and there was nobody from [the] girl’s family…. Now hundred[s] of people will take advantage of [the] 18-year-old girl and after that they will sell her to somebody”. Nobody with a reasonably sound heart will fail to be moved by the feelings of anguish and despair oozing from these words.
These cases raise several questions of a fundamental nature.
Hindus in Pakistan have experienced harsh, brutal, and severely inhumane living conditions since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Kidnappings, physical and psychological torture, rapes, forced conversions to Islam, forced marriages of young Hindu girls to Muslim men, lack of police protection, bonded labor, and religious-based discrimination has become the norm for our Hindu brothers and sisters who chose not to leave Sindh after the partition of India. Of late the rise in Islamic fundamentalism throughout Pakistan has created a viciously hostile environment, choking Hindus of their basic rights to live in the land of their forefathers.
Many of you may have heard about the case of Rinkel Kumari, a teen Hindu girl from the town of Mirpur Mathelo who was kidnapped on February 24, 2012. Rinkel’s case is quickly gaining media attention in Pakistan and around the world – not because it is shockingly rare – but because it is one of several recent cases in which young Hindu girls were kidnapped, tortured, forcibly converted to Islam under the mandate of a Mullah, and immediately forced to marry a Muslim man. Notably, the man behind Rinkel’s abduction – Mian Abdul Haq (aka Mian Mithu) – is a Member of the National Assembly (MNA) of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Her abduction by a MNA of the ruling political party in Pakistan clearly highlights a case of state-sponsored terrorism. Moreover, the same week Rinkel was kidnapped three other Hindu girls were kidnapped and underwent the same harassment, conversion, and forced marriage including a physician who worked at a prestigious hospital in Karachi. The female physician, Dr. Lata, was forcibly married to a Muslim man who already kidnapped and converted 5 Hindu wives previously. Since Rinkel was kidnapped just over two weeks ago dozens of other Hindu girls in Sindh have been either kidnapped or are reported missing.
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s state-endorsed discrimination, and in some cases extermination, of its minorities has finally caught the eye of Washington lawmakers. Coming on the heels of support in Congress for a Baloch homeland in the face of Islamabad’s depredations in the region, a US Congressman has zeroed in on the abduction and forced religious conversion of Hindus in the country highlighted by the case of Rinkel Kumari.
In a sharply-worded letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Congressman Brad Sherman urged him to take action to ensure the return of Rinkel Kumari to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker. In a case that has been widely reported in the liberal Pakistani media, Rinkel, who was abducted on February 24, was forced to marry one Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.
She was subsequently produced before a civil judge twice, but she was reportedly coerced into claiming that she had converted on her own will, even as her family was denied access to her in kangaroo court proceedings that revealed in video clips to be led by a frenzied mob of zealots, including armed followers of the Pakistani lawmaker. According to Pakistani civil liberties activists in Washington DC, Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.
”Rinkel Kumari’s case is just one case of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan,” Congressman Sherman said in the letter to Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month. ”I urge you to take all necessary steps to bring an end to this practice and other harassment of Hindus in Pakistan.”
The Rinkel Kumari case was brought to the attention of US lawmakers not by Hindu activists but by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC), a lobby group that, like the Baloch groups, is increasingly asserting the secular and syncretic identity of Pakistan’s Sindhi community in the face of growing Islamization in the country. Sapac activists are telling US lawmakers that state sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant and is causing Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan in droves.
Hindus, who constituted more than 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population soon after Partition, have now dwindled to less than two per cent, mostly in some districts of Sindh. There have been several reports in recent months of Hindu families seeking to migrate to India in the face of growing radical Islamization of Pakistan, including abduction and forcible conversions, but it is the first time that Washington, which literally slept over Pakistan’s genocide of Bengalis in 1970-71, is paying attention to the issue.
US interest in the Rinkel Kumari case comes close on the heels of sudden support in Congress for Baloch self-determination, an effort led by California lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher. That effort has rattled Islamabad to the extent that it has told American interlocutors that Pakistan-US ties will be deeply affected if Washington interfered in Balochistan, even though the Obama administration has clarified that support for an independent Balochistan is confined to the Hill, where lawmakers are free to introduce any legislation they deem appropriate. That in turn resulted in Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.,, writing to House Speaker John Boehner, expressing deep concern over Congressional action on Balochistan.
Please join me and Sufi Secular Sindhis in appreciating Honorable Congressman Brad Sherman who sent a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari about Rinkel’s issue and issues facing Hindu community in Pakistan.
Notice that all the Islamists are saying “it was a love marriage, she left on her own accord to marry Naveed”. This must be the first time they have approved of girls running away from their family to get married. Usually they are on the side of those who are labelling them Kari and arranging for their death …
London, UK and Garden Grove, CA: Overseas Sindhis including USA-based Sindhi Association of North America and UK/USA based World Sindhi Congress (WSC) condemn the kidnapping and as that is what she said in open court; forced conversion to Islam of a Hindu teenage girl, Rinkal Kumari. Ms. Kumari kidnapped from Mirpur Mathelo and held in custody of local PPP MNA. When the local community protested, Ms. Kumari was brought to a court but members of the Hindu community were not permitted to enter the public court session. She stated to the court that she wants to go home. But the judge forced her to remain in the custody of her kidnappers.
The Sindh High Court Chief Justice, Mushir Alam, has ordered by March 12, the production of 19-year-old Rinkle Kumari, a girl kidnapped from Mirpur Mathelo in Sindh’s Ghotki district. She is said to have been subsequently forcibly converted to Islam and married off to a Muslim man — or that’s the version of her family members. The judge was outraged by the event and pledged that law would no longer tolerate such crimes.
A court in Pakistan has ordered police to find a Hindu woman who was allegedly abducted and forced to marry her Muslim husband.
In a petition before the Sindh High Court, the family of Rinkle Kumari say that her abduction was supported by a powerful politician.
But her husband’s friends say that she voluntarily left home in Sindh province and willingly converted to Islam.
Judges at the court said that Ms Kumari must be produced before them next week.
Human rights activists say that other reported abductions of members of minority communities in Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, have not been properly investigated by the authorities.
In the most recent case, Hindu community leaders say that an oath Ms Kumari made in front of a court in her home town that she had freely got married and converted to Islam was made under duress.
They say that many others like her have been forcibly taken away by powerful politicians – some allied to the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The Hindu community has accused one of the party’s MPs, Mian Abdul Haq, of supporting the abduction and the forced conversion.
But in an interview with the BBC he strenuously denied the allegations.
“I contacted her family when Rinkle came to me last month,” he said.
“But they refused to respond – and then I was left with no choice but to convert her to Islam and get her married [according to] her will.”
Ms Kumari’s family say that she was kidnapped from her home on 24 February by Naveed Shah – who later married her.
They say that they have registered a police complaint against Mr Shah even though he appeared in court on 25 February with Ms Kumari, who made a statement before the magistrate that she had married him of her own free will.
The family and community leaders, however, say that the magistrate was under “a great deal of pressure” because hundreds of armed tribesmen loyal to Mr Haq were in the court premises.
Mr Haq said that his supporters would abide by the court ruling and that Ms Kumari would appear in court on 12 March.
KARACHI: Preetam Das is a good doctor with a hospital job and a thriving private clinic, yet all he thinks about is leaving Pakistan, terrified about a rise in killings and kidnappings targeting Hindus.
A successful professional, he lives in mega city Karachi with his wife and two children, but comes from Kashmore, a district in the north of Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh.
His family has lived there for centuries and in 1947 when the sub-continent split between India, a majority Hindu state, and Pakistan, a homeland for Muslims, Das’ grandparents chose to stay with the Muslims.
They fervently believed the promise of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah that religious minorities would be protected. Sixty years later, their grandson says life in Kashmore has become unbearable. “The situation is getting worse every day,” he says.
Two of his uncles have been kidnapped and affluent Hindus are at particular risk from abduction gangs looking for ransom, he says.
Rights activists say the climate is indicative of progressive Islamisation over the last 30 years that has fuelled an increasing lack of tolerance to religious minorities, too often considered second class citizens.
Das says the only thing keeping him in Pakistan is his mother. “She has flatly refused to migrate, which hinders my plans. I can’t go without her,” he said.
Hindus make up 2.5 per cent of the 174 million people living in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation. Over 90 per cent live in Sindh, where they are generally wealthy and enterprising, making them easy prey for criminal gangs.
An official at the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi who declined to be named said: “Every month about eight to 10 Hindu families migrate from Pakistan. Most of them are well-off.”
He had no comment on whether the number was on the rise, but Hindu community groups in Pakistan say more people are leaving because of kidnappings, killings and even forced conversions of girls to Islam.
“Two of my brothers have migrated to India and an uncle to the UAE,” said Jay Ram, a farmer in Sindh’s northern district of Ghotki.
“It’s becoming too difficult to live here. Sindhis are the most tolerant community in the country vis-a-vis religious harmony, but deteriorating law and order is forcing them to move unwillingly,” he added.
Hindu protesters demand justice for 17-year-old girl, who they believe was forcefully converted to Islam, Blame PPP MNA Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho for her ‘abduction’
KARACHI – A sizable crowd of Hindu protesters gathered outside the Karachi Press Club on Sunday, demanding justice for a 17-year-old Hindu girl from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, Rinkle Kumari, who was allegedly abducted forcefully converted to Islam and renamed Faryal.
The relatives of the girl, who were among the protesters, blame one man for her alleged predicament – Pakistan People’s Party MNA Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho, who is also the spiritual leader of Bharchundi Sharif in Daharki.
The girl’s relatives claimed that the girl fell in love with her neighbour Naveed Shah, whose friend Hussam Kalwar is a supporter of the MNA.
Kalwar, a criminal, has been arrested several times but always manages to get released due to his ties to the influential MNA.
Giving details about the night when Kumari was “abducted”, her uncle, Daya Ram, said in the early hours of February 24 this year, Kumari was supposed to meet Naveed Shah, believing that he would be alone. But Shah was not alone and accompanied by armed men, who abducted her and took her to Bharchundi Sharif, where she was forcefully converted to Islam.
“She did not leave home out of free will. If she had, why was one of her shoes at the home’s entrance and her dupatta outside? She was kidnapped by armed men, who barged into the home,” Ram told Pakistan Today.
He further said on the morning of February 24, he reached the Mirpur Mathelo police station and had an FIR registered against Naveed Shah.
On the same day at 1 pm, Kumari’s family received a phone call from MNA Haq’s son Mian Aslam Shah, who told them that if they wish to meet the girl, they should come to his residence.
However, Ram claimed, the family told him that they do not wish to meet her at his residence and would instead want her brought to the DSP’s office or the Hindu Panchayat Hall, where she can talk with them freely. However, both these options were rejected.
Ram said the next day, Kumari’s family was told that they can meet the girl at the Ghotki DSP’s office, but they would have to come along with Jeay Sindh Mahaz Chairman Riaz Chandio.
When Chandio and the girl’s family entered the office of the DSP, they saw that Mian Shaman, the brother of the PPP MNA, was seated on the chair of the DSP. The family again refused to talk with the girl in Shaman’s presence and was again given an option that they can meet her in the presence of Naveed Shah. The family did not accept the offer and went to the Ghotki civil judge.
The first time Kumari met her family after the “abduction” was in the court. She told her family in the presence of counsels from both sides that she was kidnapped. “Some people entered our home and kidnapped me. I did not want to leave with Naveed Shah,” Kumari’s uncle quoted her as saying.
At that moment, Ram said, Naveed Shah fainted and the judge, instead of letting the recording of her statement complete, remanded Kumari to police custody for two days.
“At the Sukkur police station, a policewoman handed her a cell phone on which she was threatened that if she did not change her statement, she and her relatives will be killed and the property of all Hindus in the area will be demolished,” Ram claimed.
“When Rinkle was brought to the court again, she was confused and upset and asked us to forgive her and allow her to sacrifice herself for our sake,” he added.
He said on February 26, President Asif Ali Zardari took notice of the incident and police again “kidnapped” Kumari and at 2 pm, she was shifted to Mirpur Mathelo from Sukkur.
On February 27, the day when Kumari had to appear in the court again, all routes to the court were blocked, but not for the “fanatic” followers of the MNA.
“If Rinkle was acting out of her own will, then why was she surrounded by armed men at the court?” Daya Rama questioned.
During the second hearing, Kumari gave a statement in favour of Naveed Shah and the court ordered her to be given into his custody.
In response to the family’s allegations, MNA Haq’s son Mian Aslam Shah has claimed that the couple had come to him seeking help and the girl wanted to convert to Islam so she could marry Shah.
MPA Petamber Sehwani, during the Sindh Assembly session on February 29, said Hindus’ daughters are being kidnapped and boys killed. “They are being forced to leave Sindh. But I want to make it clear that the Hindus of Sindh will not leave their motherland. Do not push us to the wall,” he said.
The pirs or spiritual leaders of Bharchundi Sharif have a history of religious extremism. On November 2, 1939, a famous Hindu Sufi singer Bhagat Kanwar Ram was killed in a train while travelling to Sukkur. The FIR of the murder was registered against MNA Haq’s father, Mian Abdul Rahim and his two followers.
It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.
In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.
Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.
The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.
Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.
The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.
It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?