By Pramod Kumar
A study of migrants seeking shelter in India
THE constant persecution of Hindus, began with the creation of Pakistan six decades ago, has reduced the Hindu population in the Islamic state from 20 per cent in 1947 to just 2 per cent today. Majority of the persecuted Hindus have preferred to flee India in the hope of saving their lives and the dignity of their women folk.
This migration has seen sharp rise in recent years and the reasons of it now are more outrageous than ever before. The crimes against Hindu women and children have crossed all limits and the Hindus are cornered in every way, from financial harassment to kidnappings, rapes and murder. The facts, which disturbed these people more is that they await justice in their ancestors land also, as neither the Government of India granted them refugee status or citizenship, nor the international community or the human rights organisations bothered to think of them. In such a situation they are languishing in different parts of India.
Keeping all these facts in mind, the Centre for Human Right’s Studies and Awareness (CHRSA), a unit of Mumbai-based training and research academy Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, conducted a detailed study of these ill-fated Hindus living in different camps or settlements in Jodhpur and Indore and documented an exact picture of their plight in Pakistan. The Report was released by veteran BJP leader Shri LK Advani in New Delhi on December 10.
The study team, which comprised of professionals, social workers from Jodhpur, Indore, Bhopal, Pune, Mumbai and New Delhi, was headed by Bhopal-based photographer, writer Sangeet Verma. The study was conducted between September and October 2012 by personally visiting the camps of the migrants.
What the team discovered was far worse than expected. Crimes against Hindu women were on top of the list in all interviews, with incidents of kidnappings and forced conversions as high as 25 to 30 every month in the province of Sindh alone. A shocking revelation by the migrants was that even the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary were being controlled or afflicted by the perpetrators of the crime. They also revealed that due to the constant persecution for more than half a decade, the status of Hindus has been reduced to a vulnerable minority, meant to be exploited and harassed for every reason in Pakistan. The fear of persecution within the Hindu society in Pakistan is so high that the Hindu girls are no longer sent to schools, else their kidnappings are deemed certain.
While investigating the reasons for this persecution, the team found that the education system in Pakistan is encouraging anti-Hindu and anti-India sentiments and is advocating the theory of jehad and total religious intolerance in young minds. This, combined with the growing clout of fundamentalist forces in Pakistan, and a weak political scenario has given the perpetrators a free hand for their evil acts. “This persecution is not a spontaneous event or reaction. There are reasons to believe that it is indeed a well-planned, well thought of strategy to complete the cultural genocide of Hindus and their culture in Pakistan. The situation now is worse than ever before and mainly Hindus are now left with only three options—to convert, to flee or to die,” the 52 pages report says.
Based on the first hand interviews with the victims, the team has made recommendations to the Pakistan government, the Indian government and the international community. It is clear that the Pakistan government has so far been brushing the issue under the carpet. The team has strongly recommended safety of women, strict action against perpetrators, special courts, protection of Hindu religious shrines, action against fundamentalist groups, and most importantly, removal of fundamentalism from the educational curriculum in Pakistan. The team has also appealed to the Government of India to raise the issue of migrating Hindus with Pakistan and on the international forums. It also recommended granting of refugee status and citizenship to all the migrating Hindus. The team further appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in India to visit the migrants in West Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to make recommendations to the central government for their normal livelihood.
The team has underlined the negligence on behalf of the international community, specially the leading human rights organisations like the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international in addressing the problem, in Pakistan. The annual reports of these organisations have little or no reference of the problem, which is surprising given the vast coverage of the issue by the international media. The team has appealed to these organisations to represent the cause of the Hindus in Pakistan at all levels to restore their human rights.