Last week, I was spending some quality time with my friends. One of them who is a RTI activist started telling us about a place called ‘Pakistani Mohalla’ in Delhi. Yes, you read it right, ‘Pakistani Mohalla’ and that too in Capital of Bharat. I did not waste much time in visiting the place.
It is hard to imagine that in the vicinity of plush farmhouses of Chattarpur area in Delhi, next to Sanjay Colony, there is a place called ‘Pakistani Mohalla’. You have to see to believe it that there is a place full of Hindus migrated from Pakistan in the capital of Bharat and leading a life of refugees. A cluster of hutments, most of them are half constructed or just a piling of bricks covered with temporary sheds. No roads, no clean water, no sanitation and no basic amenities, they are forced to live in this pathetic condition, thanks to the persecution faced by them in their home country, Pakistan. Uncertain about their future, they are still hoping for a life where they can live freely, roam as per their wish, practice their religious beliefs and breathe without any fear.
“We don’t want to go back to Pakistan. Life is like hell there. All the time we lived there in ‘atmosphere of fear’. Pakistan doesn’t belong to Hindus. In India, minorities are also
living freely with all the rights and facilities but the scenario is totally opposite in Pakistan. There are no government jobs for Hindus in Pakistan. Muslims hate Hindus and call us ‘Haraam’ there. They torture Hindus and ask them to act accordingly”, were the emotions of a poor helpless man around age of 40 called Ramnandan (name changed). After asking for reason to come to Bharat, suddenly his eyes blinkered with a ray of hope, “We left Pakistan in hope of a better life in India but it is still a distant dream for us. There is no permanent work and it’s like digging a well everyday for survival. Still we are hopeful.”
|“We are forced to read Kalma in Pakistani schools”
I gave up my studies after class 8 and came to India four years ago. I have no identity to get admission in Indian schools but still I feel that this is my country and feel like home here. India is like my watan (motherland). I am happy in India even in these circumstances. In Pakistan we were forced to recite Kalma and Quran in school and when we deny reciting these we had to face the consequences. Muslims taunt us for being Hindus and laugh at our religious practices.
Hindu students are not allowed to drink water in the schools as Muslim students use that facility. We carry our own water from home. There is no freedom in Pakistan for us. Here I can go anywhere without fear. I don’t want to go to Pakistan again.
At the same time a woman in her 30s was gazing at me from the corner through her customary Ghunghat. She was Nazeera. When asked about her peculiar Muslim sounding name, her reply was shocking. She said, “My
parents deliberately kept my name sounding like a Muslim one to save me from Muslims. Hindu women are not safe in Pakistan. The situation of Hindus in Pakistan is very bad — no basic rights and no education. We were living there in pathetic condition. We came to India to live a fearless life.”
While walking out from the Pakistani Mohalla to catch auto, an old guy called me from behind, “Patrakar Sahib, Patrakar Sahib” (read Journalist Sir). By the time I turned he came near me and started speaking on his own, “My name is Khamisi. We are going through a very bad phase. Please help us. We have no home to live. My family sleeps on roads. Now I am old and not able to work. So my minor son does labour on daily basis and earns some money (around 300 per day) for livelihood. Now India is our only home. In Pakistan, we were treated like dogs but I want to live my rest of life with respect. I have a request to the government to provide us some place to live and education for our children.”
|“I spent my 40 years in slavery”
I was living in Umerkot (Sindh) with my family. For survival I used to work as labourer in Pakistan. There is no respect for Hindus in Pakistan. They call us Kafirs. I don’t know why my ancestors stayed there for so long. We are treated as second-class citizens there. I have lost everything; my home, my land (tear in his eyes). Some of our relatives are still living there and waiting for appropriate time to come to India. Pakistanis treat Hindus and other minorities as animals. Whatever they see new at our place they forcefully take away, whether it is a bike or anything. They collect ransom from us to live there. I came to India for my children, so that they can live a better life. I spent my 40 years in slavery but I don’t want my children to experience that life. I escaped to avoid further discrimination and religious persecution.
The main person behind the persecution of Hindus in the Sindh region is a dreaded criminal called Mian Mithu. “He is ‘the symbol of terror’, he is like a ghost. He is the one who is involved in kidnapping and forced
conversion of most of the Sindhi-Hindu girls. Even Pakistani law cannot do anything to him. He takes ransom from Hindus. He has his own brigade. He has converted thousands of Hindus. Even in India, the Hindu refugees’ are afraid of taking his name”, tells one of the refugees, Rana.
After asking further about this dreaded character, Rana said, “He is a politician and Muslim cleric. He belongs to Pakistan’s Sindh province, which is home to most of the Hindus living in Pakistan. His terror is such that Hindus, especially belonging to Sindh cannot dare to utter a word against him. Hindu girls are being kidnapped and later forcefully converted to Islam by him and his goons. If anybody tries to raise voice or take action against him, Mian Mithu either kills him/her or uses his power to suppress his/her voices.” Rana also narrated the story of his brutality. His goons keep people in tied chain and ask them to work in fields. He has his own jail in which Hindu men are kept like slaves and women like keeps.
In a report filed by Antony Thomas in a Pakistani newspaper in 2010, “at least 25 Hindu girls are abducted every month in the Islamic State of Pakistan”. An activist and council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amarnath Motumal, stated that while the number of kidnappings, rapes and conversion has increased, at least 20 to 25 girls are abducted and converted to Islam against their will every single month.
When I asked a nearby shopkeeper about their survival, he told me that most people of the Pakistani colony, including children and women, work in various places like Chhatarpur, Khanpur, Saket, etc as daily wage labourers and construction workers.
Most of these people living in Pakistani Mohalla are not fluent in Hindi, as Sindhi is their natural language. This is another hurdle for them as they are unable to communicate with the people outside Mohalla, who are also their potential employers. It is reported that lakhs of Pakistani Hindus are now living in India and approximately 1,000 migrate to India annually in the hope of an Indian citizenship.
Persecution since Partition
Persecution of Hindus and other minorities is not new in Pakistan, especially in the Sindh region. It is just like a routine business in Pakistan which has forced many Hindus, mainly belonging to Scheduled Castes, to cross the border. In the hope of a better life, thousands of families leaving behind their paternal homes, livelihood and much more moved from Pakistan to Delhi and other parts of India.
If we go by just the numbers, according to Census in Pakistan the population of Hindus is little more than three million in Pakistan which is barely 2% of the total 160 million population. According to some sources, at the founding of Pakistan, Hindus comprised nearly 15% of the country’s population. The most shocking part is all of them are considered as ‘Na-Pak’ that is impure but the SCs among them have to face double discrimination, religious and caste based.
During the Partition Muhammad Ali Jinnah assured in a speech, “You are free; you are free to go to your temple. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” Contrary to this commitment to the minorities in Pakistan, from the creation of Pakistan itself not only Hindus but all other minorities faced persecution there. We can get the idea by reading this part of letter that Hindus were never safe in Pakistan written by Jogendranath Mandal who served as Minister of Law and Labour of Government of Pakistan dated October 8, 1950 to Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, “… Arson, looting of Hindu shops & houses and killing of Hindus, wherever they found, commenced in full swing in all parts of the city…about fifty lakhs of Hindus have left since the partition of the country. The West Punjab had after partition about a lakh of Scheduled Castes people. It may be noted that a large number of them were converted to Islam”. This letter also tells about the atrocities Hindus and other minorities faced or face in Pakistan.
The situation of Hindus in Pakistan has been worsening day by day. A report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated that Pakistan saw a 22 per cent rise in religious violence in 2014. The commission also added that around 600 to 1,000 families fled to India in 2012-13.
After getting branded as the ‘net exporter of terror’, the stories emerging from Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and now Sindh, Pakistan should also be considered as the ‘net violator of human rights’ in the world.