Jacobabad, February 13, 2013 — U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Director Jock Conly, and the U.S. Consul General in Karachi Michael Dodman, joined by Sindh Minister for Health Dr. Sagheer Ahmed and Sindh Minister for Rehabilitation Muzaffar Shujra, attended a groundbreaking ceremony to officially initiate construction of the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences, a state-of-the-art hospital. USAID is investing $10 million to build the Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences and expand access to quality health care services for the residents of Jacobabad, Sindh, and Balochistan.
Tag Archives: Jacobabad
Three Hindu traders kidnapped in Pakistan
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.
Sindh’s Stolen Brides
On the other side of the Thar, Hindus, especially girls, are forced into Islam
By Mariana Baabar
Hindus In Pakistan
Hindus constitute about 2.5 per cent, or 26 lakh, of Pakistan’s population.
Though sprinkled all over Pakistan, 95 per cent of Hindus are in Sindh.
Only Tharparkar district in Sindh has Hindus in majority: 51 per cent.
Other districts with sizeable population: Mirpur Khas (41 per cent), Sanghar (35 per cent), Umerkot (43 per cent)
Nearly 82 per cent of Pakistani Hindus are lower caste, most of them farm labourers
Cities with some Hindu population: Karachi, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
In Tharparkar, Hindus own land. Krishen Bheel, Gyan Chand and Ramesh Lal are the Hindus in the Pakistan National Assembly.
Let me confess at the outset: I’m travelling in rural Sindh to verify specifically the reported widespread menace of abduction of Hindu girls, their forcible conversion to Islam and betrothal to Muslim men. My first port of call is the district court of Mirpur Khas. I promptly mingle among the crowd waiting for the court’s decision on a kidnap-and-conversion case. Different voices narrate contradictory stories. I am befuddled for the moment.
Soon, a frisson of excitement sweeps through the throng, as a police van drives through the gate. Inside it is Mariam. She’s 13 years old—and married! Mariam was Mashu, and Hindu, till the night of December 22, 2005. I pick my way through the jostling crowd. Mariam is in a red burqa, her gold nose ring sparkles. She tells me, “I’m happy. I don’t want to return to my parents or brother.” What’s the fuss about, I wonder.
It’s quite another story under the pipal tree of the court compound. Huddled under it are the villagers of Jhaluree, 20 km from Mirpur Khas. Among them is Mashu’s father, Malo Sanafravo. He says that at 11 pm, December 22, four armed men barged into their room. One of them was Malo’s neighbour, Akbar. They picked up Mashu, bundled her into the waiting car. “She was taken to Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi’s village in Saamaaro tehsil.” There Mashu became Mariam and was married to Akbar.
Not true, insists husband Akbar. “Mariam has been always in my heart,” he gushes, saying, at 11 pm, December 22, it was she who had come over to his house. But it’s true that the Pir converted her and married them—it was his idea that they issue statements in the court. “Mariam was sent to Darul Aman in Hyderabad, in judicial custody,” Akbar declares.
A 13-year-old choosing to convert and marry? A 13-year-old testifying in the court, without her family by her side? Suspicious, I walk over to the SHO, caught in the middle of a heated exchange between two groups. Someone suggests he should allow the girl to meet her relatives. Before the conversion yes, not now. She has now become Muslim, says the SHO. He argues, “There’s a huge crowd here. If Mariam breaks down after seeing her father, there will be a communal riot here in the compound.”
A little later, there are celebrations as the word spreads: the court has allowed the couple to live together. Standing next to me is Kanjee Rano Bheel. He works for an NGO in the education sector; volunteers for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) as well. “In just two hours Mashu was converted and married,” Kanjee says incredulously.
Disappointment and helpless rage fleet across his face. “In Darul Aman the girls are kept away from parents and pressured into issuing statements favourable to the abductors. They tame stubborn girls through death threats.”
So, was Mashu abducted and forcibly converted?
In Mirpur Khas, truth resembles the mirage of the surrounding Thar desert, teasing and tormenting me as I drive from Karachi into interior Sindh. It tests your credulity, it challenges your journalistic skills. Wherever I go, and whoever I meet, in disconsolate voices the Hindus talk about ‘missing girls’; their stories resemble Mashu’s—the theme of abduction, conversion, often followed by marriage, is common to most narrations. The girls then appear in courts to issue statements declaring their conversion was voluntary. All links to the natal family and the community are severed; they are lost to the family forever. On January 4, 2005, Marvi, 18, and Hemi, 16, were kidnapped from Kunri village in Umerkot district; three months later, on March 3, 14-year-old Raji was abducted from Aslam Town Jhuddo, Mirpur Khas. The script in their cases was similar to Mashu’s. “Only 10 per cent of all conversions involving girls are voluntary; because of romance,” says Kanjee.
Ten per cent of what? No official figures are available. The DIG in Mirpur Khas, Saleemullah, says, “If there’s need I’ll collect these figures.
Saleemullah, perhaps, should tap the HRCP for statistics. Its director in Lahore, I.A. Rehman, is an honourable man. Rehman told Outlook that the HRCP has, between Jan 2000 to Dec 2005, documented 50 cases involving conversion of Hindu girls to Islam. Its investigations too endorse what I had found in interior Sindh. In many cases where it was claimed the girls had eloped with their Muslim partners, the HRCP found that most were, in fact, abducted, forcibly married to Muslim men or sold to them. There have been cases of Hindu girls, usually from economically better off families, eloping with their Muslim boyfriends. Rehman says in most cases such marriages didn’t last long. With links to their families cut off, the girls were subsequently forced to marry another Muslim or sucked into marriage rackets.
Nuzzhat Shirin, who works for the Lahore-based ngp Aurat Foundation, understands why the girls don’t reveal their plight at the time they are presented in court. “When a Hindu is forced to become Muslim, such a ruckus is made that if the young kidnapped girl appears in court, the fanatics yell, scream, throw rose petals in the air and follow the youth into the building so that she’s intimidated and can’t speak,” Shirin explains.
Social stigma arising from the loss of virginity, and the consequent difficulty of finding a groom, prompt these women to accept their misfortune—and hope for the best.
Fifty incidents in five years represents just a percentage of the total number of cases, says Kanjee, pointing out that a majority of such crimes go unreported. “There have been 50 such incidents last year,” insists Krishen Bheel, who is a Hindu member of the National Assembly (MNA), the Pakistani equivalent of the Lok Sabha. He begins to rattle out the cases he remembers: two months back Sapna was kidnapped and converted in upper Sindh; seven months earlier it was 17-year-old Lakshmi in Nawkot, and then…. “The trend is increasing,” he says. “If these conversions are voluntary, then how come boys rarely ever convert?”
Only once did the popular resentment against abduction spill out in the streets of Mirpur Khas. It was in the ’80s: a girl named Sita had been kidnapped. Some 70,000 Hindus turned up to protest the kidnapping. The police opened fire, killing several. “Sita was never returned,” Krishen laments. “She had even told Justice Dhorab Patel, who later joined the HRCP, that she had been forcibly converted. We have now stopped agitating.”
Instead, the Hindus take the support of civil rights groups and the media to publicise abduction cases, hoping public scrutiny would goad the state into action.
On Dec 30, the day after the Mariam case was disposed, the Supreme Court took cognisance of the complaint Qosheela’s parents from Ghotki, Sindh, had filed. They claimed their 13-year-old girl had been kidnapped, converted, given the name of Hajra and married to a Muslim man. The girl, as in most other cases, had said she had converted of her own free will. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, ordered the medical examination of the girl to determine whether she had attained puberty (Islam permits marriage at that age). Should it be proved otherwise, the husband could be tried for rape.
Even cities are not immune to the menace. Last year, Sammo Amra and Champa in Karachi received a letter from their three missing daughters—Reena (21), Reema (17) and Usha (19)—informing that they had converted to Islam and were ordained under the dictates of their new religion not to live with infidels, including their Hindu parents. The letter bore the address of Madrassa Taleemul Islam, Karachi. It prompted Supreme Court Bar Association president Malik Mohammad Qayyum to petition the Supreme Court in the first week of December. He accused the religious seminary’s administrator of using coercive methods to convert the three girls. On December 16, the court ordered the police to shift the girls to the Edhi Welfare Centre and provide protection to them until the time it was ascertained they had been indeed compelled to convert to Islam.
Sensitive Muslim citizens feel the way to counter the menace is to reinterpret and widen the scope of law.
Major (retd) Kamran Shafi, an absentee landlord from Sindh, cites the case of 17-year-old Kochlia, who was kidnapped and gangraped in Jacobabad, Sindh, in Sept 2005. Four men were arrested for the crime. They were subsequently released because Kochlia stated in the court she had converted and was married to one of them. Shafi asks, “Isn’t something very, very wrong here? Suppose the poor girl was forced into changing her religion and marrying one of the assailants so that they get off the hook? Can’t the state prosecute the four on its own, for their original crime of rape?”
The three Hindu MNAs—Krishen Bheel, Gyan Chand and Ramesh Lal—raised the Kochlia case in the National Assembly. They claimed Kochlia’s statement was not tenable as under the local Hindu custom and law a girl can’t marry of her own will until the age of 20. Since Kochlia is a minor, her abductors should be tried for rape. Such an interpretation of existing laws could provide ample relief to Hindus.
Till then, though, the fear of kidnap stalks the Hindus of Pakistan. Krishen Bheel says Hindu girls are scared to go out; he has enrolled his own children into a Christian school. He points to Mirpur Khas’ strange predicament: there’s freedom to worship, there are 10 temples which bustle through the day with devotees; and yet Hindu girls here are kidnapped and converted—and the community humiliated.
Perhaps these abductions are part of the general scenario of crime against women in rural Pakistan (see box). Perhaps they are converted and married to criminals to enable the latter to escape the dragnet of the law. Yet, such arguments don’t comfort the Hindus. Sat Ram, of Shadi Bali village near Mirpur Khas, says Hindu girls are deprived of education because their parents are apprehensive of sending them to schools located at a distance. “They receive education only till the primary level. It isn’t safe to send them to school after that.”
But the plight of Hindu women can’t be seen just through the prism of gender discrimination rampant in rural Sindh. Reena Gul, of Sattar Nagar village, Mirpur Khas, says the boys too are converted but their numbers are very few. The community here feels it is the Islamist’s agenda to drive out non-Muslims from Pakistan. In fact, Krishen told the National Assembly that even Hindu businessmen are being kidnapped in Sindh for ransom. He said on the floor of the House, “Several religious parties are reportedly behind the move to convince the people that it is their responsibility to get rid of infidels from Pakistan, (that) taking ransom from non-Muslims is not a sin.”
I now set out to meet Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi, whose name surfaces repeatedly in conversion stories. The drive from Mirpur Khas to Sarhandi village, Somarho tehsil, is through a picturesque landscape. Peacocks dance in the field and gypsies pitch their tents for the night. Even the Pir appears tranquil, his white flowing beard and winsome disposition camouflaging his mission.
Yet, when he begins to talk, he conceals nothing. Yes, the Pir declares, he has been converting the Hindus for the last 30 years. Perhaps his claims of converting a 1,000 families a year is a boast. “There’s a surah in the Quran which speaks specifically about conversion, especially about conversion of women,” he says to justify his mission. “Recently, three Hindu girls were brought to me. I named them Benazir, Sanam and Nusrat,” he reveals, with the righteous air of someone who had bestowed a favour. “These Hindu women are mistreated by their husbands who do nothing but watch TV.”
The Pir rubbishes the allegation that he converts abducted Hindu girls. The unwilling are sent back. Yet, he adds in the same breath, “In many cases Hindu girls are kidnapped and kept as keeps. But these keeps are not converted. But believe me, they are very happy.”
I express the desire to meet the women whom he had converted and found sanctuary with him. The Pir agrees, even allows us to photograph them, contrary to the local tradition. Into the room, the women walk. Rehana, 50, was earlier Nabee; she converted three years ago, after the death of her husband. “I had no one to turn to. If we do not convert we would not be helped by this family.” It was the same reason for 35-year-old Mariam, who came here seven years back. “Under the Pir’s protection, I earn at least Rs 200 a month.” Ruksana was earlier Chotee, and hails from Umerkot. Extreme poverty and a drug-addict husband persuaded her to take the extreme step. “I brought my four kids as well,” she declares.
As I talk to these women, I realise most of them are widows or wallowing in poverty. I mention this to the Pir. He says, “The government is responsible for all Hindus and non-Hindus. When the government doesn’t help them, they come to us.”
Forced or economically enticed, the Hindu converts do not symbolise Islam’s appeal. Rather they represent the state’s failure to provide succour to the poor and protect their religious rights. Perhaps it’s also symptomatic of the sickness afflicting the Pakistani state. As they say, the condition of the minorities is an indicator of a nation’s health.
Via – Twitter
PAKISTAN – Supreme court directs Sindh IG to recover Hindu girls by 26th
SC directs Sindh IG to recover Hindu girls by 26th
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Sindh inspector general of police to take all necessary steps for the recovery of Hindu females and produce them before the court on March 26.
A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez was hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Hindu Council, making the federation through the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry respondents. Appearing on notice, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq requested the court to grant him some time to seek instructions from the quarters concerned in the matter. The court then directed him to file reply until the next hearing.
The court was informed by Pakistan Hindu Council Patron-in-Chief Dr Ramesh Kumar that during the past few days, three females of the Hindu community including Rinkle daughter of Nandlal (Mirpur Mathello) and Dr Lata daughter of Dr Ramesh (Jaccobabad) were kidnapped from CPSP Karachi, whereas another Poja Devi (Larkano) had also been abducted forcibly. He said the entire Hindu community felt insecure and therefore had lodged a protest in Karachi. He requested the court to issue necessary directions to the provincial administration for the recovery of the girls by the next date of hearing.
Courtesy: Pakistan Today
Kiyani puts gun on the parliament’s shoulder!
NATO supply resumption: Parliament to make final decision, says Kayani
By Zahid Gishkori
JACOBABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has categorically said for the first time that parliament reserves the right to decide on resumption of Nato supplies.
Speaking to reporters at the Shamsi Airbase on Monday, he said that the final decision on whether Nato supplies will be allowed to pass through Pakistan for forces based in Afghanistan will be made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.
Kayani and Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, chief of air staff, took members of the media to airbase in Jacobabad to formally announce that the Shamsi Airbase is now under the control of the Pakistan Air Force. The US, which used the airbase for drone attacks in Afghanistan and possibly those in Pakistan, was told to vacate the base by Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 Salala checkpoint attack.
The army chief said that Pakistan and US are cooperating on defence operations and Pakistani officials are taken into confidence whenever bordering areas are to be attacked.
Asked if the F-16 aircraft that Pakistan recently received from the US can down American drones, Suleman said that the PAF does not want any such situation to arise where this capability will have to tested. …
Read more » The Express Tribune
MURDERS OF THREE SINDHI HINDU DOCTORS: CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
By Javed Qazi
Hardly a day of the great murder of the history of Sindh passed by, that 72 years back, Sindhi Sufi mystic singer, Bhaghat Kanwar Ram, was killed near Shikarpur, that we always remember him on his anniversary day, 1st Nov. We have got a blow due to another shock that three Hindu doctors have been killed by the Bhayo Tribe in Shikarpur. Prima Facie it is due to the fact that recently the persons of this tribe had kidnapped a Sindhi Hindu girl and wanted to convert her religion to escape from the crime of kidnapping. The Sindhi Hindu community, who was in majority in the area prior partition of India, is still living by about 50000 houses, in Shikarpur. They couldn’t let this happen and they got the girl back from the Bhayo tribe. In the tribal context it was shameful for Bhayos that the most weak community, forced Bhayos and got the girl back. In a ray of revenge on very Eid day, just to send a loud and clear message to the Sindhi Hindu community, three Hindu doctors in Shikarpur were killed while they were performing their routine professional work in their respective clinics.
This is same Shikarpur where the great leader of Sindh, Shaheed Allah Bux Soomro was murdered on same grounds, almost 68 years back. Shikarpur was Hub of trade and commerce, which even Karl Marx has acknowledged on his notes on India as colony of British Empire. Prior partition it was either Karachi or Shikarpur which had colleges and best education institutions and hospitals that even Hyderabad and Sukkur was far behind it. Shaheed Allah Bakhsh Soomro was the first premier of Sindh, who was against the formation of Pakistan, was from Shikarpur city. This was due to the fact that communal groups of Manzil Masjid Gah were spread. The symbol of religious harmony, Bhaghat Kanwar the great mystic singer was murdered at that time. Allah Bux soomro another symbol of religious harmony and secularism was murdered at that time.
Continue reading MURDERS OF THREE SINDHI HINDU DOCTORS: CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
Tragedies continue to unfold in Sindh – Thirty-seven more Sindhi Hindus leave Pakistan for India over security concerns
by South East Asia News.Net
Thirty-seven Hindus, comprising five families and residents of Thul town in Jacobabad district, have permanently left Pakistan for India due to security concerns.
Despite tall claims of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership, murders of Hindus, kidnappings for ransom and forced conversions are being carried out unabated across the Sindh province, Pakistan Today reports.
Like many other Hindus of the province who have migrated to other countries, these families have left the country after selling their properties and wrapping up their businesses. …..
Read more → South East Asia News
WSC asks all the Sindhi political and civil society organisations, technocrats, and intellectuals to rise above political differences, and to work together in order to help and lead people out of this flood disaster
SITUATION OF FLOODS IN SINDH AND WORK FOR THE RELIEF AND REHABILITATION OF SINDHI PEOPLE
London – The unprecedented floods in Sindh continue even after a month. Scandalously still new major towns and hundreds of villages continue being inundated resulting in displacement of hundreds of thousands more Sindhis, bringing further destruction of communities, livelihood, crops, homes and infrastructure.
WSC believes, that the current floods in Sindh and resulting unprecedented destruction is a concerted effort to direct the destructive powers of a natural phenomenon to eliminate and uproot a nation and subject them to a long-term process of slow genocide. These assertions are based on the following facts, inferences and analysis:
1. Sindh has been drowned resulting from literally hundreds of breaches to river waters in Kashmore, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Larkana, Dadu and Thatta. There are serious questions, suspicions and concerns within Sindhi people, and now even the government circles, about the first major breach, Thori bund. This breach so far has resulted in displacement of about five million people, drowning of 4000 towns and villages, loss of trillions of worth property and crops and immeasurable pain, suffering and indeterminate consequences. The British authorities who built the Sukkur barrage recommended cutting river Indus from Ali Wahan if the water levels cross the threshold of barrage’s capacity. As the waters will then divert to the desert areas of Naro, Thar and eventually ending in sea taking historical routes of Hakro and Mehrano riverbeds. Off course, this also would have resulted in displacement but the population is sparse, sand has far greater ability to absorb water and people in such circumstances occupy high locations on sandy dunes. It is now emerging that the river Indus was cut at Thori to mainly to save Panoo Aaqil cantonment, Qadirpur gas installations and Fauji Fertiliser.
Continue reading WSC asks all the Sindhi political and civil society organisations, technocrats, and intellectuals to rise above political differences, and to work together in order to help and lead people out of this flood disaster
John Jacob – An English officer of British Raj who loved Sindh & Sindhis
The reporters of Dunya TV are reporting from Jacobabad, the flood affected area of Sindh. They are narrating about the legend of Balochistan Nawab Akbar Bugti and John Jacob, an English officer of British Raj on Sub-continent, who loved Sindh and Sindhis, who refused to leave Sindh. John Jacob was a courageous English officer who had worked a lot for the betterment of Sindh and Balochistan. The people of Sindh pay him tribute and homage for his services to Sindh…
Courtesy: Dunya TV
Guru Arjan Dev Gurdwara, Karumpur, Jacobabad, Sindh provides shelter to Muslim flood victims
Flood IDPs Camps in Karachi
Due to violent monsoon and floods thousands of people have already migrated from Ghotki, Sukkur, Larkana, Shikarpur and Jacobabad. In a latest development 90% of Jacobabad has been evacuated. Special trains have been mobilized for the refugees, heading towards Hyderabad and Karachi. Humanitarian Community is requested to respond accordingly. There may be some other camps but so far four camps are identified in Karachi by our civil society teams, political parties and media friends.
The mass evacuation of Jacobabad due to flood waters that are approaching fast to the city, Sindh Government has decided to move the IDPs from Jacobabad to Karachi , Hyderabad and Jamshoro. The current update is that CDGK has identified following four locations in Karachi where the IDPs will be brought in 1. Gaddap, 2. Bin Qasim Town, 3. Kiamari, 4. Toll Plaza
KARACHI: Chakra Goth, Korangi: In this camp at least 40 families, migrated from Thul, Jacobabad are living in very vulnerable conditions. To babies were born during floods and they are in a very critical health conditions.
Shah Rasool Colony, near Abdullah Shah Ghazi mazar, Saddar Town: 32 families are migrated from Kachho of Larkana, most are women and minor kids.
Mehmoodabad Graveyard: 45 families from different flood hit areas of upper Sindh are there and looking for help.
Sachal Goth: hundreds of flood survivors, displaced and now living on footpaths in a very pathetic situation. …
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 13 Augsut 2010