Life worse than death in Pakistan—II
Life worse than death in Pakistan—II
By Pramod Kumar
The generation of Arjun Das was born in Pakistan. In his personal memory the things deteriorated sharply for Hindus under General Zia-ul-Haq. Even Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was not bad, but Benazir Bhutto proved to be the worst from minority perspective. It is still under her party’s regime that the Hindus are passing through the worst ever phase of their life in Pakistan. Tensions are particularly high in Sindh, Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province, where Hindus are increasingly being forced to embrace Islam in order to survive.
Narrating his agony Arjun Das turned emotional. Controlling his tears he said, “No Hindu wedding ceremony is now organised at night. It was stopped following regular attacks by local Muslims who forcibly took away both the bride and the valuables. I still remember a horrible attack at Waderalal village under Sangad district where the wedding ceremony of Bagari community was attacked and the bride was forcibly taken away. The police did not even register a FIR. Similarly, about three years back a group of about 50 local Muslims attacked the houses of Meghwal Hindus in Sadatpur village under Sangad district. They first locked the male members inside houses and then repeatedly raped the girls and women overnight. Just in September this year, a Hindu girl, aged around 11, was killed after gang rape in New Saidabad under Matiari district. Her decomposed body was recovered from a paddy field after several days.”
Red carpet to Taslima and Bangladeshi infiltrators, lathis to Pakistani Hindus
When controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin was forced to leave Bangladesh some years ago following her controversial books, the Government of India readily granted her asylum, despite strong opposition from the Government of Bangladesh. Similarly, our Government has no objection if crores of Bangladeshi nationals illegally live here.
But now it is behaving quite differently with 145 Hindus, who came from Pakistan on a valid visa but now do not want to go back, fearing threat to their life. These Pakistani Hindus were living in tents at Majnu Ka Tilla for over a month. Since the cold in Delhi reached at its peak, they shifted to a Temple in Ghaziabad on December 15, with prior information to Delhi and Ghaziabad Police. Suddenly on the night of December 17, the Ghaziabad Police started crack down on them and lathicharged. They forcibly packed them in some buses and threw near Akshardham Temple in Delhi at midnight. The police action was carried out despite clear instructions from the Supreme Court not to displace people in the cold, rather provide shelter to those living in open at night in the winter.
According to reports, the police action was carried out on the instructions of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati who does not want to lose her Muslim votes in the forthcoming Assembly polls. The Congress and other political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, too are silent on this issue, as they also aim at Muslim votes.
Now some people under the banner of Human Rights Defence India have made arrangements for them at an Ashram in Bijwasan, while some families have again been shifted in tents at Majnu Ka Tilla.
The question is majority of our political parties are ready to embrace foreigners including Taslima Nasrin and Bangladeshi infiltrators who can move to any Muslim country if denied asylum in India, but nobody is ready to protect the rights of Pakistani Hindus who can go nowhere in the world, except India.
“Today the overall situation is that Hindu women cannot go to market without covering their faces. Every women displaying bindi or wearing mangalsutra is attacked and insulted publicly. It is a daily affair. We have had a life full of misery and ghulami. I didn’t want that my daughters should continue to suffer it. We want to live with our Hindu identity. Therefore, we had no other option but to come here,” said Lakshmi adding that they left their home, land, and other articles behind with just a prayer in the mind that Hindus in India would help us.
“Even before entering 10th standard our daughters are either trapped by Muslim youth or are kidnapped. That is why hardly one per cent Hindu girls complete 10th standard in our area. About 15 months back, a 15-year old Hindu girl was forcefully solmanised nikah in Kaziamand. Similarly, about nine months back, six minor Hindu girls were forcibly kidnapped from Sankad Shahar and still nobody knows what happened to them,” she added.
It is not just the life but the death too is horrible in Pakistan. Muslims do not let the dead body of a Hindu cremate. There are violent fights whenever someone dies as Hindus insist on cremation and Muslims pressurise for burial. “They say they get ‘bad odour’ when the body is cremated. If some are agreed for burial, they are forced to bury in separate spaces, apart from the Muslim graveyards. But we have successfully resisted burials by going far into the Sindh River to cremate the bodies on sandbars; but each death sees violence, for such is the hatred of Hindus. It is because of such hatred most of the crematoriums in Pakistan have been closed. Over a century old crematorium at Vee Ka Goth in Hala Shahar was closed in similar way three years back. Many crematoriums have been converted into residential complexes, while some are used as urinal,” said Ganga Ram, adding that it is due to this kind of pressure that mostly no Hindu ritual is followed while craming the dead body.
When a member of this group, Kanhaiyalal, died recently in Delhi and his body was cremated at Nigam Bodh Ghat, it was for the first time that these people saw Hindu rituals being properly performed during cremation. “Forget following rituals in last rites, we do not know the rituals followed at different stages of the Hindu life. I could recite the Gayatri Mantra only after coming here. Since we do not know the religious customs we could not pass them to our children,” said Ganga Ram adding that the Islam influenced their life so much that when someone is tired he says Yaa Khuda and not Hey Ram, as the Hindus normally say. Similarly, majority of the Hindus use the words like Qasam Khuda Ki, Inshallah, Khuda Hapiz etc. in daily affairs.
Narrating another incident how the Hindus are humiliated there, Ganga Ram pointed out, “There lived a Valmiki family near a mosque in Sankad Shahar. The local Muslims repeatedly pressurised the family to clean the local mosque daily. But when the family refused to do it at free of cost, some local Muslims burnt some papers and declared that kafirs have burnt the Quran. Following it, the Valmiki family was tortured so inhumanly that it fled at night. Later, their house was occupied by local Muslims.
To think of religious freedom is also nothing but an offence in Pakistan. “Demolition of temples is daily affair. Majority of the large temples have either been demolished or are in poor state. Some of them have been converted into hotels while some have been encroached for building residential complexes. Idols from most of the temples have either been thrown into drains or stolen and majority of the temples now have only posters and calendars in place of the stone images. There is hotel cum restaurant in Tower Market of Hyderabad, which has been built over the structure of a temple. Many temples were demolished in Sanmajhin to build toilets. The killing of all those Hindus who oppose such acts is certain. Forget using loudspeakers in temples, Hindus cannot chant any mantra loudly even inside their houses,” said Arjun Das adding that due to constant fear even the Hindu priests wear half skullcaps to look like everybody else around.
He pointed out that after the demolition of so-called structure in Ayodhya in 1992, Hindu temples were looted and razed en masse with bulldozers, women were brutalised, priests were beaten up, and the Hindus were terrorised. Now temples mostly survive as small shrines within homes. Hardly, a handful still function in public places, mostly where the Hindu population is large or good Muslims protect them. The Ravidas Mandir and Valmiki temples of Hyderabad in Sindh are still safe because these communities are needed for the services they provide.
“There will be no temple in Pakistan after four-five years, as the Hindus living there will flee either to save their life and honour or will convert into Islam. Even if we are not granted visa or are forced to return Pakistan, we too will have no other option but to convert into Islam to save our life,” added Arjun Das. He pointed out that after their insistence to stay in India was widely reported by media, their relatives and family members in Pakistan are receiving constant threats. But despite such threats they do not want us to return Pakistan. They are also ready to come here, if gets permission to settle down permanently.
Rich Hindus are hardly better off as they are constantly harassed for protection money. Recently, on November 9, 2011, three Hindu doctors were shot dead at Chak town of Sindh; the police hinted at a dispute involving a girl, but the fact is that the attack took place on Eid-ul-Adha, and it might be part of an extortion racket flourishing in the area. “If you have money, you can survive by giving regular donations to Islamists. But what do we have? Our honour is always at stake. We can’t go to the higher authorities. We don’t have any resources. We work in the farms of Muslim landlords and make a small living. Our daughters, sisters and even the elderly women are victims of their lust,” said Sobha Ram.
Hindus have voting right in Pakistan, but they cannot vote as freely as a common Pakistani Muslim. They are constitutionally directed to vote only for the Hindu candidates in their designated constituencies. Even if any Hindu is elected for state assembly or Parliament, he/she is not granted preference for ministership. “Pakistan was born only in 1947 but the land belonged to our ancestors since centuries. We are as much owner of the land as any other religionist. But the ‘other’ religionists are free to vote and shout for their rights and participate in the mainstream activities, we are asked to live in a cocoon,” said Sagar Rai.
“Disappointed from everywhere, the Hindus of Pakistan have no other option but to come to India. If our Hindu brethren here do not accept us, where would we go?” asked Mittharam. When informed that the Government of India has shown reluctance to extent their visa, they all stunned and their faces turned pale. After a pause some of them jointly asked, “Why can’t we, despite being Hindus, live in India? There are thousands of Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Tibetans living here. It is the Hindu country and if any Hindu living in any part of the world comes here he must get asylum. We request the Government of India with folded hands to make arrangements for us to carry on our life here. After all, how can we live peacefully when every single day someone comes and asks us to get converted into Islam?”
They pointed out that Islam is still chasing them, as they are getting repeated allurements to convert into Islam in Delhi too. “Some Muslims have approached us. They told us to just reach the Jama Masjid and embrace Islam and they would make all arrangements for us including the citizenship. But we have outrightly rejected all such allurements, as what was the need to leave Pakistan if we had to embrace Islam,” they said without naming the Muslims who approached them in this regard.
By and large these Hindus are determined not to return Pakistan for the sake of their way of worship and daughters. But a fear is clearly visible on their faces as their future is uncertain. When they were sharing their plight with me, their kids were playing outside the tents. Their faces looked glowing with confidence and assured safety. They were smiling. Freedom really makes even the refugee souls happy.