This is the Face of Pakistan……………
Minority Rights Violated in Pakistan………………
Minority legislator speaks up on kidnappings, conversions
By Imtiaz Ali (News International, April 9, 2009)
Increasing incidents of kidnapping of Hindu community members and “conversion” have caused concern in Sindh. Approximately 30 to 35 minority members had been kidnapped; one of them was killed. Seven are still believed to be in the custody of abductors. Around 18 Hindu girls had been converted to Islam; one of them was reportedly killed this year.
Some say that these incidents should not be seen in isolation and should be viewed as part of the general law and order problem. Similarly, girls have increasingly shown a tendency to marry with their consent.
Others say there is a plot against the minority members who are being targeted for various reasons. Of particular concern is the alleged blasphemy case in Umerkot, which had remained closed for a few days recently following violent protests. Sindh Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza was of the view that there was a conspiracy to grab the property and business of the Hindu community.
These issues were also highlighted during the last days of parliamentary year of the Sindh Assembly by the Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarian (PPP-P) minority legislator, Pitanbar Sewani.
Sewani was born in Bagarji, Sukkur, in 1953 and has been associated with the PPP since 1974. Starting from his political career as a member of district council Shikarpur in 1979, he had been elected as a member of the provincial legislature twice. He is among three senior legislators of the minority community. Two others were late P.K Shahani and Rana Chander Singh. One striking aspect of his personality is that he prefers a simple lifestyle. He spoke to The News about these issues.
KIDNAPPINGS: Three Hindus were kidnapped in Salih Pat. The kidnappers demanded Rs1.5 million as ransom. When the relatives sold their property to pay the ransom money, the abductors increased the original amount to Rs2.5 million. As the poor relatives were not in a position to pay the ransom, the abductors killed Mahender Kumar on the Hindus’ religious festival (Holi) recently “as if to present a ‘gift’ to us,” Sewani said. Two were still in their custody.
On the same day on which Kumar was killed, the criminals kidnapped three more Hindus in Ghotki. “The home minister personally visited the area and we hope that they would be recovered,” Sewani said.
The robbers gunned down Dr Darshan Lal in Larkana and snatched Rs2.4 million from him. The police made some arrests in the case but showed only Rs16,000 as recovery from the accused.
In this year, around 30 to 35 Hindus had been kidnapped, out of them seven were still in the custody of criminals. Among them is PPP-P district Jacobabad minority wing President Darshan Lal. Apart from kidnappings, robberies had also been increased, targeting the Hindus. The robbers stormed a temple in Jacobabad and snatched 450 “tolas” gold from 250 women. The police made some arrests but had shown recovery of only 10 to 15 Tolas gold.
Criminals stormed another temple in Daharki and robbed people. In the third incident, robbers stormed a temple in Ghotki and robbed people. However, the then district police officer (DPO) Irfan Baloch made arrests and recovered each and everything, which was appreciable. This is first time that the religious places had been robbed.
The minority community’s houses have also been looted. The robbers entered Natho Mal’s house in Sakrand city and took away Rs1.4 million. The police made arrests but had shown recovery of Rs500,000 to Rs600,000 only. In Shikarpur, a Panchayat leader’s (Mukhi) house was looted.
RELIGIOUS CONVERSION: Around 18 Hindu girls had been kidnapped and “converted” this year. Some of the events might be the result of love affairS. “We do not have objections over their becoming Muslims but we have objections over the method through which they had been ‘converted’,” Sewani said.
“First they kidnap the girl, marry her and subsequently she is presented before the court. We demand that first, the girl should be kept at a ‘neutral place’ then it should be decided as to whether she had been converted. How we would be convinced that she had not been converted under duress as there are incidents that girls were kidnapped for ulterior motives. One Hindu girl who was reportedly converted and married in Sukkur, was thrown from the third floor of the building on Eid-ul-Azha day and died. Her husband was arrested but later released on bail,” he said.
PLOT: The Hindu community in Pakistan was first targeted in 1972-73 when their women were insulted in Kandhkot under a conspiracy. It inspired Amar Jalil to write a short story on it. Subsequently, a pattern was set that whenever the PPP comes in power, the minority members are targeted as it is the only party, which strives to improve the condition of minorities and empower them, Sewani said. Certain elements want the government in Sindh to fail, and they target Hindus who are loyal to the party, he maintained.
When the PPP came in power in 1988, around 19 Hindus were killed in Karachi and their property was looted. When the PPP assumed power in 2008, Jagdesh, a factory worker was killed over alleged blasphemy. Hindus were targeted on their religious festival (Holi) in Umerkot and the home minister on the Sindh Assembly floor said there was conspiracy against the minority.
PAKISTANI PERSECUTION MEANS MURDER OF HINDUS
Mgr Saldanha slams murder of Hindu, killed for alleged blasphemy
by Qaiser Felix
Jagdeesh Kumar was a young Hindu man who was killed by his Muslim co-workers. Like in cases involving Christian victims, blasphemy charges such as these conceal the persistent violation of religious minority rights.
Karachi (AsiaNews, 04/09/2008 From Archive) – Sentenced to death by his Muslim co-workers, 22-year-old Jagdeesh Kumar was beaten for almost half an hour and left to die in the leather factory where he worked. Charging him with blasphemy the workers arbitrarily enforced the country’s infamous law which imposes the death penalty for anyone guilty of defiling or blaspheming against Islam and the prophet Muhammad.
Mgr John Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore and chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan and of its National Commission for Justice and Peace, harshly slammed the killing.
“Changes to the blasphemy law to prevent abuses have not improved ordinary people’s lives; they are still victims of people led by emotions and instincts who take the law into their own hands,” he said. “The government should heed demands from the population for the law to be scrapped.”
The archbishop said that killing someone without solid evidence and without a trial is clearly an irresponsible act. He urges the authorities to investigate this case.
“Incidents such as this in which people take the law into their own hands, meting out justice to alleged offenders, are shocking and upsetting,” Monsignor Saldanha said.
This case must become a test for the new government to show that “laws are applied and that all citizens are considered equal before the law.”
Police arrived on the scene after the incident and confirmed that Jagdeesh’s alleged blasphemous statements provoked his co-workers into beating him to death.
But the blasphemy accusations have not convinced the family who believe that religion had nothing to do with it. For them it is just a personal vendetta.
Jagdeesh’s brother-in-law Raju said that “he was a simple young man and knew little about religion. We came to Karachi to earn a living, not to take part in religious disputes. It is very easy to kill a member of a minority and then accuse him of blasphemy. This is why we want the inquiry to go ahead.”
In Pakistan blasphemy is punishable by the death, but no one has officially been sentenced. However, some 30 people have been the victims of illegal summary justice, even in police custody.
The places of worship of religious minorities and the homes of their members have often come under attack.
In Pakistan Hindus are minority representing 1.6 per cent of the population of this Muslim nation of about 160 million people.