Courtesy: ARY News
Modi under pressure over minister’s tirade against non-Hindus
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under growing pressure to sack a minister over a tirade she made against religious minorities, as his outraged opponents disrupted parliament for a second day on Wednesday.
Niranjan Jyoti, the junior minister for food processing industries, asked whether the country should be governed by “the children of Ram (a Hindu god) or the children of bastards” at an election rally.
The comment was widely believed to have been an attack on the legitimacy of the country’s Muslim and Christian minorities.
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New Delhi: India has become the last destination of Sindhi Hindu from Pakistan, where the state-sponsored seminaries have been victimizing them since last two decades. Over 2000 Hindus have recently refuge in the premises of Delhi in last couple of years; however rough estimates suggest their number during last ten years have crossed one hundred thousand.
Hailing from the secular province of Sindh in Pakistan, their ordeal is the evidence of systematic exodus and their ethnic cleaning by the military establishment supported seminaries and Mullahs. Land grab, forced conversions and marriages of Hindu girls have been heart wrecking ordeal.
Sindh, the second largest province in Pakistan, is the richest in the natural resources like gold, oil, coal and uranium. Analysts believe that the exodus of Sindhi Hindus is being systematically orchestrated by the Pakistan’s establishment, which is monopolized by ethnic Punjabis, and want to take hold of resource rich lands of Sindh as well as intent to alter its demography. The recent reports after Pakistan Army’s operation in Taliban and their associates in the tribal Pashtun area has also been indicating the influx of tribal refugee to Sindh.
“We were either targeted by the criminal gangs in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur divisions of the province or harassed by the seminaries that house ethnic Punjabi or Pshrun Mullahs from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa provinces,” told a few refugee during their protest demonstration in Delhi after fledging from Pakistan.
They have camped in the various places of Delhi and Rajasthan States of India, where they are mostly hosted either by the refugee supporting organizations or by the Hindu political outfits. One such camp in the northern Delhi is looked after by OM-SPBPJM Trust, led by A. K. Solanki. The refugees of Dravidian origin, Baghris called in Sindhi, practicing thousands years old traditions of Hinduism and have sustained as gypsies community in Sindh after the epic war between Arian and Dravidians in 1500 BC India.
On December 10 last years, over one hundred Sindhi refugees protested outside United Nations headquarters in Delhi and demanded international community’s intervention against Pakistani authorities for the crimes against humanity they have committed in Sindh province.
Sindh is the centre-stage of the provinces – federation conflict in Pakistan. On March 23 this year, Sindh rebelled as at least five million Sindhis took to the streets of Karachi and demanded the independence. Sindh is a home of 50 million Sindhi people and is believed to be the historical land, where massive and outrageous freedom movement has emerged during last decade. Hundreds of the Sindhi activists have been killed and more have been involuntarily disappeared by the intelligence agencies like ISI and the Military Intelligence.
The word Hindu is very much misunderstood and misused. Many people have no idea how the word originated. In India, some politicians use the the words Hindu and Hindutva with communal overtones either to promote or oppose some ideology or party. To the rest of the world, Hindu and Hinduism refer to a set of people belonging to definite religious system.
The fact is that the BOTH the words “Hindu” and “India” have foreign origin. The word “Hindu” is neither a Sanskrit word nor is this word found in any of the native dialects and languages of India. It should be noted that “Hindu” is NOT a religious word at all. There is no reference of the word “hindu” in the Ancient Vedic Scriptures.
It is said that the Persians used to refer to the Indus river as Sindhu. Indus is a major river which flows partly in India and partly in Pakistan. However, the Persians could not pronounce the letter “S” correctly in their native tongue and mispronounced it as “H.” Thus, for the ancient Persians, the word “Sindhu” became “Hindu.” The ancient Persian Cuneiform inscriptions and the Zend Avesta refer to the word “Hindu” as a geographic name rather than a religious name. When the Persian King Darious 1 extended his empire up to the borders of the Indian subcontinent in 517 BC, some people of the Indian subcontinent became part of his empire and army. Thus for a very long time the ancient Persians referred to these people as “Hindus”. The ancient Greeks and Armenians followed the same pronunciation, and thus, gradually the name stuck.
Many of the proselytizing saints who arrived in Sindh from Iran or Middle East gave their mission a boost by putting down roots in ancient Hindu places of worship, or even by allowing themselves to be identified with Hindu gods. Sehwan Sharif, where Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s tomb is located, is the site of an important Shiva centre. The name Sehwanistan, as it was known untill recently, derives from Sivistan, city of Shiva, and the modern faqirs still dress like Shaivite yogis, in torn clothes, with matted hair.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar also used to be called Raja Bhartari by hindus ; and when I visit his shrine I see, flashing in red neon Urdu script above his tomb, the words Jhule Lal, one of the many Hindu names for god of water. At least untill the nineteenth century, it was believed by Muslims and Hindus that the Indus waxed and waned according to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s whim.
Courtesy: Empires Of The Indus by Alice
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION -Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-150-2013
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that two scheduled caste, Hindu women were raped by their Muslim landlords before their family members. Later on, one of them was murdered in revenge for making a report to the police. She and her mother were abducted by one of the landlords from outside the clinic of a doctor in broad daylight, close to the police station, and she was shot dead in front of her mother. The Shadi Pali Police Station of Umer Kot district, Sindh, took time to register the First Information Report (FIR) in order to give the rapists time to abscond. The family members of the victims are displaced from their village and are living on the roadside in the cold nights but the police and authorities have refused to help them. In providing protection to the rapists, the police and notables of the area forced the victims to reach to a settlement and give amnesty to the rapists. Once again the police have shown their efficiency to get approval from judicial magistrate so that perpetrators are freed.
ISLAMABAD: (Reuters) – A crowd of Islamic fundamentalists dug up the grave of a Hindu man in Pakistan, police said on Tuesday, in the latest sign of growing religious tension in the increasingly unstable province of Sindh.
Shouting “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is greatest”, the crowd dug out the body and dragged it through the streets of the southern town of Pangrio in a dispute over the location of the grave.
“Tensions are still running high, but we are in control of the situation,” district police chief Shaukat Ali Khatian said.
“The incident was caused by some clerics of the extremist outfit of Ahle Sunaat Wal Jamaat, but later other Muslims joined in and dug up the body and threw it away.”
Hindus and Muslims have lived side by side and shared graveyards in Sindh for centuries, but tension has been on the rise recently as extremists make increasingly aggressive inroads into the rural parts of the province.
Sindh is home to most of Pakistan’s small Hindu community, which numbers about 2 million among a population of roughly 180 million.
Pakistan’s rocky relationship with neighboring India, a predominantly Hindu country, has fed tension between the two communities in smaller towns, such as Pangrio.
The Hindu man, Bhoro Bheel, 30, had died in a road accident and was buried on Saturday, in line with caste tradition. The subsequent desecration sparked demonstrations and forced police to step up street patrols.
“Even our dead are not safe anymore in their graves,” Narayan Das Bheel, a member of the Hindu community, told Reuters.
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Maria Golovnina and Clarence Fernandez)
Textbooks and tolerance –Sindh is set to remove bigotry from its school curriculum
By Ali K Chishti
In spite of the rich and diverse cultural history of Sindh, textbooks in the province promote bigotry and glorify war. The provincial government says it is all set to change that.
The state of Chhattisgarh, in central India, is gaining a reputation for continued attacks by Hindu nationalists on Christians. Chhattisgarh, which borders the states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, is the scene where well-known Hindu extremist groups are persecuting religious minorities and continue to accuse Christians of “forced conversions.” It was in nearby Orissa in 2008 that scores of Christian churches and homes were burned, while Christians were murdered. An investigation of the atrocities remains inconclusive.
Last week, a Christian place of worship was incincerated in Kondagaon district in Chhattisgarh. According to a report by the Fides news agency, the Evangelical Fellowship of India, which brings together several evangelical Christian communities, built a chapel of wood and straw in the village Chhote Salna. The chapel was burned down on the evening of April 2 as local Christians looked on helplessly. The land on which the church stood had been donated by local Christians, who came to worship there from elsewhere in the district.
Veeru managed to engineer a dramatic escape from her landlord, and is now, astonishingly, running for provincial assembly seat PS-50 in Hyderabad, Sindh.
HYDERABAD: Veeru Kohli was born to a landless Hari. From birth to now, her journey has been a tumultuous one – Veeru was married off to a family bonded to their landlord, managed to engineer a dramatic escape along with her relatives, and is now, astonishingly, running for provincial assembly seat PS-50 in Hyderabad, Sindh.
On the top of her election agenda is to end bonded slavery everywhere – a cause close to her heart considering her past. Veeru lived in a small hut in the Hoosri neighbourhood of Hyderabad, along with her family of agricultural workers. Wearing a traditional ghaghra and an armful of bangles like every other Kohli woman, the 47-year-old has come a long way, she explains.
The activist, who now works tirelessly to get prisoners freed from private jails, was born to a landless Hari, a member of the scheduled Hindu caste, in Allahdino Shah village in the tiny town of Jhudo. At the age of 16, she was married into a family bound to a landlord because of a loan that was never settled.
Veeru was unable to understand why their loan continued to increase despite the fact that the family’s earnings were constantly adjusted with the landlord. Yet, she says, her ‘benefactor’ was far better than some others.
After 17 years, the family took a loan from relatives better off than themselves, and they moved on. They got a job with another landowner in Umerkot. The family had migrated with big dreams, but the man turned out to be a tyrant, and their dream turned into a nightmare.
Right wing Hindu groups have been blamed for their role in the 2006 Malegaon blasts. Reuters
“The country should be taken over by the army”, railed Hindutva leader BL Sharma ‘Prem’ at a 26 January, 2008 meeting in Faridabad, near New Delhi.
“It has been a year since I sent some three lakh letters, distributed 20,000 maps of Akhand Bharat on 26 January, but these Brahmins and traders have never done anything and neither will they do. I do not talk of casteism. It’s just that they don’t have the potential; they don’t have the aptitude for this kind of feelings”.
“It is not that physical power is the only way to make a difference, but it will awaken people mentally”, Sharma concluded. “I believe that you have to light a fire in society, at least a spark”.
Today is the 16th anniversary of the sacking of Shanti Nagar. In memory of this, we publish the relevant section of a new report on Pakistan we plan to publish quite soon.
Shanti Nagar is a predominantly Salvation Army village in the Punjab province, founded in 1916, of around 25-30,000 people. Apart from about 15 Muslim families – for whom the other villagers built a mosque – the inhabitants are Christian. Hard work in farming meant the village was relatively prosperous. On 17th January police raided the house of a 60 year old Christian, claiming intelligence of alcohol-drinking and gambling going on. The police regularly raided the village on such pretexts – usually about every fortnight, probably because of jealousy over the Christian village’s prosperity. They would harass the villagers, and because the villagers were rich enough to bribe the corrupt police, they always came back for more. Anyway, despite, as ever, no gambling or alcohol or anything else illegal going on there, they searched his property, and amidst the ransacking a box with a bible fell out. The police deliberately kicked and desecrated the bible, and took the man to the police station, even though they had found nothing illegal, and were trying to get a large bribe from him. The residents of the village protested the raid, the false arrest and the desecration of the bible, and also the numerous false blasphemy accusations that had been made against villagers. They asked for charges under article 295 to be brought against the policeman responsible. Even after police investigations found the charge to be true, the police refused to act until sustained pressure resulted in a promise to suspend the officers responsible and take them to court. Then the police pressured the village for the matter to be settled out of court, but they refused and the senior police officer threatened to act in way that meant they would not be able to stand on their own feet for at least 50 years. On 3rd February, a general election day, he posted the policeman who had kicked the bible to Shanti Nagar as security officer. This made the villagers even more angry as it proved the promises by higher police officers to take action was a lie, and they protested even more, so the police hatched a plot. Two days later, a Muslim man went to an abandoned mosque 2km from Shanti Nagar and found – so he said – torn pages of the Quran with blasphemous words and the name and address of the Christian from Shanti-Nagar who complained about his bible being desecrated, along with several others. He took it to the police station of the nearby city of Khanewal, a stronghold of an Islamicist group with ties to Bin Laden called Harkat-ul-Insar. Within 30 minutes of registering a case (and several Christians being arrested), mosque loud speakers from the city and all the Muslim villages around about were calling all faithful Muslims to wage jihad against Shanti Nagar, using word for word identical language. City church priests rushed to warn senior officials of the impending attack, and were promised that all appropriate measures would be made, but that too was a lie. Late that night, mobs started attacking churches, Christian homes and shops and medical dispensaries in Khanewal, setting them and their contents on fire. The next morning, the mob attacked the Catholic church just outside the city Council buildings. Bibles and other books were gathered from churches and burned, and the Holy Communion bread thrown on the floor, statues and the like were systematically smashed. 100’s attacked the priests’ house and burned all the parish records. Pleas for police help went unheeded, they just stood by and watched. The mob attacked a Christian boys school. Many fled, but about 50 of the youngest hid under their beds. The mob set fire to mattresses over them, and they had to flee for their lives, several being carried out unconscious. They burned all the school records and furniture. They then attacked the Salvation army church and pharmacy, and re-attacked the Church of Pakistan building they had attacked the night before. Christians in local shops and homes fled for their lives, but those who were caught were severely beaten. Again the police did nothing. The mob only retreated when Christians started throwing bricks and stones to defend their homes.
By Amar Sindu
Today is February 24. Last year, on the same date, Rinkle was picked up from her house. Her house was left in a state that suggested that a burglary had occurred and valuables were stolen. Her dupatta and her chappals were left lying on the doorstep.
When she was first presented in a court in Mirpur Mathelo, she requested to be returned to her parents. The court, instead of listening to her, replied that she ‘was confused’ and therefore, should spend time reconsidering the predicament and handed her back to her abductors. It was as if the court was confused itself.
She was presented in court again on Feb 28, where, in her statement, she recited the kalma and became ‘Faryal Bibi’ from Rinkle. The entire process took less than 10 minutes. Her conversion to Islam was greeted by aerial firing by her captors who had brought her to court surrounded by armed guards. This was a new victory for them.
‘Faryal Bibi’ was then taken to Dargah Bharchondi’s seat-bearer and PPP’s Mian Mithu, while the gunfire echoed across the town. She was his guest and was taken to and from court surrounded by his guards. Actually, this victory was not the only feather in the dargah’s cap. The dargah’s deeds, ranging from the Manzalgah mosque that became famous for its role during the pre-Partition communal riots in Sindh to the assassination of the singer Bhagat Kunwar Ram of the Hindu faith, were oft repeated. The dargah commonly converted non-Muslims to Islam before the Partition and this exercise continues steadily today.
By MARC SANTORA
A 31-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train.
The woman, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said.
“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare: Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Mr. Brown said in an interview.
In a statement, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Ms. Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said.
The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu. …..
PAKISTAN: Military demolishes temple, Ahmadi graves desecrated, a six-year-old Hindu girl was raped and a 70 year old Christian missionary shot
December 6, 2012 – ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-200-2012 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a wave of persecution against the religious minority groups has again started with the connivance of military and local authorities. In the recent days more than 100 graves of Ahamadis were desecrated by excavating the graves and breaking the headstones bearing the names of the dead persons. The same happened with a Hindu temple which was destroyed along with the houses by the military authorities, allegedly after being bribed by a private builder who wanted to grab the land. In another case a six-year-old girl from the Hindu community was raped in a bid to push the Hindu community to leave the country and take refuge in India. Also, a 70-year-old Swedish Christian missionary was shot at and is in critical condition. Her cook was also beaten up by the unknown persons two days before the incident.
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Karachi – When Laxman saw four men entering the Hindu temple with their shoes on, he instantly yelled at them to stop in their tracks. But the only reward he got for trying to protect the sanctity of his place of worship was a beating. With every punch and kick, he was called names like Bhangi (sweeper) and Kafir (infidel).
“I can’t explain how I felt at that moment. I was both enraged and terrified,” said the 35-year-old resident of the Shri Rama Mandir compound in Soldier Bazaar.
The demolition of the century-old temple stirred a sense of insecurity among the already frightened Hindu community in the city and reaffirmed its belief that people practicing the religion existed as second-class citizens in Pakistan.
“I said they can shoot me if they like, but I won’t let them go in with shoes,” said Laxman, a man partially paralysed by a stroke.
“Half of my body does not work, but at that moment, Rama Pir gave me the strength to fight, and I did what I could,” he said.
The men put the statues and tridents from the temple out on the ground. Then a bulldozer reduced the pre-partition Mandir to rubble. A number of houses in the compound were also demolished, rendering around a dozen families homeless. They even pried opened the donation box and took away the cash and jewellery, the residents alleged.
“We have been living in this compound since the British era”, said Maharaj Badriram, the priest of the Shri Rama Pir Mandir. “We never had any problems with the larger community, but the treatment meted out on this occasion was inhumane. People look to me for help, but now, I find myself helpless,” he said.
A 17-year-old Hindu boy, who took video footage of the planned demolition, claimed that some bearded men associated with a political party oversaw the destruction. “I don’t understand how people can insult the religion of others and expect respect in return,” he said.
The President of the Schedule Caste Federation Pakistan, Kalidas Khandara, said that people in the country take Hindus for granted. “They think we are weak, so they can intimidate us, but this time, it won’t happen.”
Hundreds of people from the Hindu community staged a peaceful rally from Doli Khata, Soldier Bazaar, to the Karachi Press Club to protest against the demolition of the Shri Rama Pir Mandir, which was illegally demolished on Saturday.
“Every time a temple is threatened, we have to run to the courts. It is the third time it has happened this year,” said Ramesh Kumar Wakwani, the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council.
“There should be a stipulated policy for our properties in this country; we are also a part of Pakistan.”
The protestors demanded that the government immediately restore the temple with all its dignity.
Wakwani said that the double standards against Hindus in the city could be gauged from the fact that those coming from outside and building shanty towns in Karachi get leases, but Hindus living here for more than a century were still considered illegal.
Speaking about the demolished temple, Kalidas Khandara of the Scheduled Caste Federation said that Ramapir Mandir was restored by the government in the year 2000, which went to show that the place of worship was not only registered, but received government grants as it was a\deserving heritage site.
KARACHI, Dec 1: A Hindu temple was damaged and religious objects were allegedly desecrated in a demolition operation carried out in a Garden locality on Saturday.
However, the director of military lands and cantonments claimed that no religious place had been damaged in the anti-encroachment operation carried out in a locality falling within the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board Karachi.
Pakistan Hindu Council chief Ramesh Vankwani condemned the demolition of a temple in the building in Doly Khata, near the Holy Family Hospital, where he said the Hindus had been living for a long time.
He said that the issue was in court and the demolition team along with police and Rangers came to the area on Saturday, started the operation immediately that destroyed residences as well as the temple in the building. He said that the religious objects in the temple were desecrated and thrown out.
He said that a sense of insecurity among the Hindu community was spreading owing to such highhandedness by the administration and law-enforcement agencies.
Alleged encroachment: Soldier Bazaar temple razed in hurried operation
By Rabia Ali
Apart from razing down the pre-partition Shri Rama Pir Mandir, the private builder also demolished three or four houses located next to it. Nearly 40 people became homeless as a result.
“They destroyed our mandir and humiliated our gods,” said an angry Prakash, pointing towards the huge debris of concrete, stones and walls of the temple. The demolishing team did place the statues of four Hindu deities on the side but the residents accused them of taking away their gold jewellery and crowns.
Pointing to the bruises on his arms, Lakshman said that, “they hit me with their guns when I tried to stop them. I told them to kill me instead of destroying our holy place.”
Banwri recalled that the demolition teams arrived around 11 in the morning. She was preparing breakfast when she heard the thundering noise of a bulldozer. She rushed outside, only to receive instructions to bring her bed, cupboard and other essential items outside the house. “I watched my house go down in just minutes and I couldn’t do anything.”
She added that, during the demolition, the area was cordoned off by the police and Rangers with tents put up all around. Outsiders were not allowed to enter, she added.
Don’t demolish 200-year-old Hindu temple: Pakistani court
Islamabad: A court in Pakistan has restrained authorities in the port city of Karachi from demolishing a Hindu temple believed to have been constructed 200 years ago, a media report said.
Crimes against humanity in Sindh and Pakistan
Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabani Khar has presented a rosy human rights report in the periodical human rights review session of the United Nations in Geneva, which is an attempt to hide underway crimes against humanity in the country.
SHE HAS claimed remarkable achievements regarding rights regime in Pakistan. Her report and talk at Geneva gives an impression that Pakistan has undergone a huge transformation during last four years similar to a revolution in the governance, rights regime, and legal framework.
The realities in Pakistan are entirely opposite to that report. If an analysis of last four years in Sindh province alone is carried regarding the Hindus exodus and ethnic cleansing, involuntarily disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and ethnically discriminative legislations, the intensity of the violations as well as denial of the rights under various treaties and declarations of United Nations will no doubt prove to be the crime against humanity.
Hindu Exodus and other forms of ethnic cleansing in Sindh
Thousands of Sindhi Hindus have been forced to quit Sindh, Pakistan, who have refuge or settled in the various countries mostly in India. Nearly 8000 Hindus from Sanghar district of Sindh, Pakistan have sought asylum in Rajasthan state of India during October 2012. The other form of ethnic cleansing is the target killings of ethnic Sindhi, Baloch, and Pashtun in Karachi city, which is aimed to resist these peoples settlement and force the existing population to migrate from city. The state support to an ethnic violence-making group through administrative decisions and legislative initiatives is an established reality of violating the various international treaties and declarations, which are rectified by Pakistan.
In this regards, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ in Article II reads:
“….genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a. killing members of the group; b. causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c. deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…
According to the Article III of the convention, genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit genocide; and complicity in genocide are punishable crimes. The article IV of the treaty clearly mentions, “Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.”
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.
By: Shivam Vij
In neighbouring Pakistan, an Islamic cleric recently accused a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, of blasphemy, a charge punishable by life imprisonment. He said she had burnt some pages that contained verses from the Quran. The 14 year old girl hails from a poor family and suffers from Down’s Syndrome. An eyewitness to the event showed courage and told a magistrate the truth: it was the Muslim cleric who had put those burnt pages in Rimsha’s bag. The cleric has been arrested and is set, in turn, to be charged with blasphemy.
I have been thinking about the incident. Insulting somebody’s religion is bad. It may cause offence. Often it is intended to cause offence. If somebody insults Islam, by doing things like burning pages containing verses from the Quran, it is bound to outrage a Muslim.But what happens when the Muslim has burnt those pages to implicate a Christian? Where does the outrage disappear? Why are the right-wingers and the mullahs in Pakistan suddenly silent? The cleric’s lawyer had threatened the judge that if the girl is let off she could be lynched – such was the outrage! Where has the outrage suddenly disappeared? Where are the calls for lynching the blasphemer to death?
And what does this hypocrisy tell us? It tells us that such outrage is, in the first place, fake. That their religious sentiments weren’t really hurt when they said they were hurt. It was just that they wanted to persecute Christians and for doing so they were happy to commit blasphemy that they could then accuse Christians of doing!
What does that tell you of the claims of such people over how strong their religious, nationalist or whatever “sentiments” are?
I have noticed several such incidents in both Pakistan and India in the recent past. Let me give you a few examples.
Kill a human being who does not share your faith and voila, as per your religious gurus, you have earned the title of ‘ghazi’
My 12-year-old son is a Muslim. He knows the Namaz, reads the Quran with a teacher, and recites the Kalima before going to sleep. He understands the basic concepts and has no problem lowering the sound of TV when one is saying prayers, or when asked to put the Quran in a clean, protected space. Asked why he does all these things, his answer would be simple: “My mom taught me to.” My 12-year-old is a Muslim simply because I am a Muslim. His faith is not something he was born with, and all he knows is imbibed through parental influence. The only thing noteworthy is his perception about the world: how unfair some things are, how people unleash cruelty on one another. His unfaltering empathy, his profound concern for people are things probably no one taught him. When I tell him about painful events, there is no recoiling in unease; there is merely a rapid fluttering of eyelashes, a telltale sign of an attempt to hide his tears, this time about the 11-year-old Christian girl who is the latest victim of Muslim ruthlessness.
By: Faiza Mirza
I grew up in fear – every face around me depicted nothing but fear. I am sure that the first expression on my parent’s face on my birth as a female child born to Hindu parents living in Kandhkot would have been that of fear also. Why did I bring so much fear into the lives of my parents? I grew up always wondering what is it about me that continues to terrify. But I always drew a blank. How naïve I was.
Before I knew it, the time to attend school had arrived. School was comfortable; however, there were times when I felt like an outsider, finding it difficult to gel in with rest of the majority. Perhaps the snide remarks and incidents of discrimination led me to believe that I am not one of ‘them’. Of those incidents, I still vividly remember no one eating with me and refusing to sip from the cup I drank from.
Home wasn’t very different either. My mother asked questions about my life at school and otherwise looking for answers that would somehow relinquish her from the unknown fear. Afraid to disappoint her, I realised very early in my life that my mother could not be my confidant.
Growing up was not easy.
And then it happened. The fears of my mother and many Hindu mothers like her materialised. I went out to one of the largest markets of Kandhkot and was abducted by a man I knew very well. He was none other than the guard who was responsible for safeguarding our temples.
Knowing his face well prompted me to sit with him in his car without protest, however, instead of taking me to my house he turned to an alley that I wasn’t too familiar with. Scared and unsure about what lay ahead I started screaming just to hear my abductor scream louder and threaten me. Astonished and unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation I sat still until it was time to step out of the car to a small house which looked abandoned.
By: Iqbal Tareen
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.
By: Kapil Dev
Some 65 years ago, Muhammad Ali Jinnah made a historic speech to the first Constituent Assembly, which was being presided over by none other than a scheduled caste Hindu, Jogendra Nath Mandal, also the first law minister of Pakistan, which many of us perhaps don’t know. Jinnah’s words ‘You are free; you are free to go your worship places. You may belong to any religion or cast or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state’ often reverberate in our ears on this day. It won’t be wrong to say that a person belonging to religious minority, be it a Christian, Hindu or Parsi, has crammed these historic words just to quote and justify their existence here and they rightly do so. In fact these words are an epitome of Jinnah’s vision of secular Pakistan which was hijacked soon after his death by right wing mullahs.
Three prominent Hindu businessmen were kidnapped along with their driver by unidentified armed men in Sindh province of southern Pakistan today.
The businessmen, Ramesh Lal, Ashok Kumar and Hari Ram, were abducted with their driver in Ranipur area of Sindh, Pakistan Hindu Council patron Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said.
In addition to being a prominent trader, Lal is the president of the Hindu panchayat of Thul sub-division of Jacobabad district. The businessmen were going from Karachi to Jacobabad city when they were abducted.
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. ….
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