The Hindu community, which is in minority in Pakistan, are undergoing a series of threats and persecution, as killings, kidnappings and attacks on religious site of minorities has become a common affair in the country.
Earlier on August 2, a rally was organised in Sukkur calling for the recovery of Priya Kumari — a seven-year-old girl who went missing two years ago — in which a large number of actvists gathered at the Dolphin Chowk and walked to the Sukkur Press Club.
The human rights activist Azra Jamal said that Sindh was going through “its worst period of disruption,” in which the “… police had conveniently assumed the role of silent spectators,” The News on Sunday reported citing protestors.
The demonstrators carried banners and placards reading “Release Priya Kumari” and “Restore peace in Sindh.” They chanted slogans against religious intolerance and condemned the rising incidence of kidnappings in interior Sindh.
According to activists who also attended the rally, two years have elapsed since the “mysterious disappearance” of Priya Kumari. The police have failed to locate and reunite her with her family.
The child went missing on August 19, 2021 from Sangrar.
The participants of the rally demanded that protection be extended to minorities facing numerous threats, ranging from abduction to forced conversions.
“Priya Kumari, daughter of Rajo Mal, was only seven when she was abducted,” says Mukhi Eshwar Lal Makheja, president of the Hindu Panchayat, Sukkur.
“She was volunteering to serve water to mourners on the tenth day of Muharram when she disappeared,” The News on Sunday quoted Makheja as saying.
“How can a child disappear in the middle of the day?” asked Makheja. “…That too during Muharram when law enforcement agencies including the police, rangers and army personnel, are deployed all over the city to ensure the safety of the mourning procession,” he added.
“A security plan was in place and yet little Priya Kumari got kidnapped.”
Makheja further said that hundreds of Hindu girls are abducted and forced to change their religion every year.
“The authorities must safeguard the rights of religious minorities and other vulnerable communities,” says the president of the panchayat. Meanwhile, the police have claimed that they are looking for the child.
“We are conducting operations in Sindh and Balochistan to recover Priya Kumari,” The News quoted Sanghaar Malik, the Sukkur senior superintendent of police from a press conference.
“An operation is also under way in the Punjab,” added the SSP. “We have detained more than 300 suspects,” he informed the press.
Last year, in March, a Hindu girl was shot in broad daylight in Sukkur allegedly for rejecting the advances of an influential Muslim man. Pooja Oad (18) was murdered during a failed abduction attempt.
The complainant alleged that a man named Wahid Bux Lashari was harassing Pooja to change her religion and marry him. She repeatedly rejected these advances and also told her father and brought the matter to the notice of local landlords. Two weeks later, the girl was shot dead.
According to the complaint, Lashari and his two acomplices tried to enter her house and again demanded to marry him. But when she turned down the proposal, he shot her down.
On March 22, Lashari and his accomplices were arrested and produced before a court.
Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has condemned the lack of specific legislation to protect minority rights. The commission said that the community is barred from seeking legal recourse when such incidents happen.
“Many lawyers in the country refuse to work on such cases because of the fear of being threatened by influential families of the perpetrators,” The News on Sunday quoted the SHRC as saying.
Notably, the bill on forced conversions is yet to be tabled in the provincial assembly.
The recent upsurge in rights violations has been blamed by some people on the narrative around Seema Rind’s case.
The matter pertains to Pakistani Muslim woman apparently falling in love with an Indian Hindu man over the PUBG, an interactive game, and fleeing to India along with her children to meet him.
According to police sources, a Ghotki-based dacoit, Ranu Shar, was the first to issue a warning to Hindus in this regard, followed by other bandits hailing from Kashmore and Kandhkot.
In addition to this, the violence against the Hindu community has extended beyond abduction and forced conversions, with several places of worship also being attacked.
Recently, some bandits launched an attack on Radha Swami Darbar Temple near Ghouspur town of Kashmore district. The robbers reportedly used a rocket launcher, leaving holes in the temple walls, The News on Sunday reported.
According to the police, the attackers targeted the residence of a businessman because he had not paid them protection money, and the temple was adjacent to the businessman’s house.
Members of the community have condemned the attack and demanded the police to take action against desecration of the temple.
In another incident from June 22, Mukhi Jagdish Kumar, a representative of the Hindu community was kidnapped along with his 10-year-old son Jai Deep and his driver en route from Kashmore to Badani.
“The police have failed to trace them”, Makheja said.