Updated as on June 7, 2009 || The Organiser, New Delhi, India.
By N Krishna
The Hindu community in Pakistan, already reduced to an insignificant minority, is further dwindling. What happened to the Hindus there soon after Partition is continuing even now.
Unable to stand-up to the harassment by Muslim fanatics, more than 6,000 Pakistani Hindus have migrated to India in the recent past. Incessant pressure to convert to Islam and social alienation are driving the scattered Hindus to crossover to India. Lashkar Das, one of the Hindu migrants now settled in Haryana, echoes the feelings of many Hindus in Pakistan when he says: “I was constantly under pressure to convert to Islam. Some families budged and capitulated, but those who did not became targets for fanatics.” Another Hindu migrant says: “Local residents call us Hindu kafirs. Our children are discriminated against in schools and forced to read namaz.”
Kafirs! Interestingly, this epithet was used by one of the Pakistani terrorists who took part in the Mumbai massacre in November last. The heavily armed terrorist, on seeing a local resident, called the latter a “Kafir”. This supports the Hindu migrants’ contention that some Muslims in Pakistan call the Hindu neighbours as Kafirs.
No wonder Pakistan is now denuded of the once vibrant Hindu community. How did this happen? A note that the Indian government sent to Pakistan in December 1949 throws some light on the eviction, covert and overt, of Hindus from Pakistan. The note charged the Pakistan government with launching a drive against the remaining Hindus in Sindh. In the interior of Sindh, the note said, conditions were reported to be much worse. Owing to ceaseless “official’ harassment, Hindus were forced to embrace Islam.
Substitute ‘no-official’ for ‘official’ and you will get an idea of why the small Hindu minority in Pakistan is further dwindling. No less a Pakistani leader than the recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto said, in June 2006, that served Hindu families in Larkhana in Sind had been threatened with dire consequences if they did not dissociate themselves from her Pakistan People’s Party. She cited cases in which one Hindu was killed by unidentified assailants in Larkhana and another youth, a son of a noted Hindu family of Warand Mal was shot and wounded.
In February, 2008, Hindus in two districts of Pakistan’s Balochistan province warned that the minority community would boycott the upcoming general elections if the authorities failed to trace three kidnapped Hindu traders, even as armed men abducted another business man’s son. Forced conversions to Islam, which began in the wake of Partition, continue unabated in Pakistan. In March 2007, as many as 79 Pakistani Hindus from the Bhaeel community were converted to Islam near Khapro. The converts included 28 men, 25 women and 34 children. The elderly Bhaeels reportedly told an online news agency that they had embraced Islam after being inspired by the teachings of Islam.
All this ties in with what happened recently in the Swat Valley. It looks as though the Hindus in Pakistan, who now number 20 lakh, are in for further truncation in future. This suspicion was confirmed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report for 2006. It says that the state promoted violence by failing to act against those attacking non-Muslims or their properties and their place of worship. The report also lists several cases of forced conversion to Islam, especially of Hindu women.
In September 2005, minority members of the Pakistan National Assembly said that Hindus were being hounded and humiliated to force them to leave Pakistan . They were taking part in a discussion on a call-attention motion on the abduction of a Hindu girl in Sindh and was latter converted to Islam. One member, Krishan Bheel, said many Hindu men were being kidnapped for ransom in Sindh. These incidents were engineered to force Hindus to leave Pakistan where they have been living for the past 5,000 years.
At the time of 1947 Partition, those belonging to Indian religions constituted about 20 per cent of the population in West Pakistan and 34 per cent in East Pakistan. The percentages have now dropped to a little less than two in Pakistan and to about ten in Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan).
All this is in sharp and disturbing contrast to the religious demography in India. The Muslim population in India grew by 1.3 per cent while the Hindu population declined by 1.5 per cent during 1991-2001. The Muslims, comprised 13.4 per cent while the Hindus formed 80.5 per cent with the total population standing at 1.02 billion in the 2001 census.
The policy of the successive Pakistan regimes of turning a blind eye to the harassment and eviction of the remaining Hindu families in places like Sindh has resulted in the continual thinning of the Hindu minority. And this has given rise to Hindu fundamentalism in India. Fundamentalism is something alien to Hinduism, but the injustices heaped on the diminishing Hindu population by Islamic extremists has touched off a wave of resentment in the majority community in India.
There will be meaningful democracy in Pakistan only if its rulers strive to realise Jinnah’s ideal of secularism. It is now universally established that secularism is the bedrock of democracy.
(The writer can be contacted at 16-110, Mirjalguda… Malkajgiri, Hyderabad-47 (AP)
Plight upon Hindus & Sikhs by Talibans in Pakistan beyond Imagination.
Buildings of Sikhs allegedly destroyed by Taliban in Pakistan
Sikhs in Pak : Persecuted & Fleed in numbers.
Sikhs & Hindus in Pakistan agree to pay jazia to Taliban
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Islamabad: In May, dozens of Sikhs living in the Orakzai agency were forced to move out after the Taliban demanded Rs50 million as jazia, or security tax, from them. Locals said the families were impoverished and left the area to avoid any Taliban action.
Less than a month later, the tax net has spread wider, to the Khyber agency tribal area. The Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians there have been told by the Taliban-backed Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) to pay jazia in exchange for ensuring their security in the area.
Having already imposed the security tax on non-Muslims in the Orakzai agency in the tribal belt on the Afghanistan border, the Taliban forces in this area have empowered the LeI to charge the tax on their behalf, Khyber agency sources said.
The LeI commander has publicly announced that Sikhs and Hindus will be free to live anywhere in the area after paying this protection tax.
Reports suggest that most of the minority community members in the region have agreed to pay the tax instead of leaving the area, having lived there for decades.
Sources said several jirgas (meetings of elders) were held to settle the issue. One such meeting held last week, attended by the leaders and elders of the Sikh, Hindu, and Christian communities at Tirah Valley, resulted in the decision to pay up rather than move out.
Women, children, and handicapped persons have been exempted from paying the tax, which amounts to Rs1,000 per head annually.
The LeI militants have already started collecting jazia in Bara, Chora, Karamna, Bazaar Zakhakhel, and Tirah Valley of Khyber agency. Those refusing to pay, or not in a position to pay, are being forced to leave.
Indian Muslim leaders term Taliban’s treatment of Sikhs barbaric
Source : www.sikhsangat.org
Amritsar, Punjab: Taliban’s treatment of Sikhs in Pakistan’s tribal areas is illegal and barbaric, said Indian Muslim leaders.
On seeing reports about Sikh families in Pakistan being driven out of their homes and being subjected to Jaziya and other such impositions, the religious, political and community leaders of the Indian Muslims in a joint statement issued here Sunday said: “The imposition of the so-called Jizya is nothing more than extortion by an armed and lawless gang which does not constitute a sovereign government or state or even an organ thereof.”
The Indian Muslim leaders said, “We regard this as an act of injustice incompatible with the letter and spirit of Islam and the international covenants accepted by all Muslim states.”
They demanded that the Pakistani authorities must take earliest steps to retrieve the extorted sums and pay them back to their affected non-Muslim citizens and facilitate their peaceful return to their homes and properties in their traditional homelands and give them all due protection.
Sikhs of Orakzai
It was extremely distressing to read about the horrendous predicament of the Orakzai Sikhs in your editorial titled “The Sikhs of Orakzai” (May 3). In any bad year, the Orakzais would put dozens of women and girls to death just for the sin of wanting to marry a man of their own choice; all in the name of honour. Here is a situation faced by Kalyan Singh and others, settled in the Orakzai tribal belt for as long as one remembers, and the collective tribal conscious does not move to help these poor souls just because one suicide bomber in a jirga has brought down their swagger to a whimper.
O people of Orakzai tribe, where is your Pakhtunwali, one may ask. Or was it all mere sloganeering only to change the name of the province? Get up, and have those blighted Sikhs and their families released from the clutches of these barbarians and shameless lot called the Taliban, whatever it takes. You know better there is no glory in your folklore for such cowardly acts by a few. Are you listening, the former governor of NWFP from Orakzai tribe?
Vice Admiral (r) Taj M Khattak
11 May, 2009, Asian Age, Correspondent, CHANDIGARH
May 10: Scores of Sikh and Hindu families who have been rendered homeless by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat territory want Indian visas to seek shelter with relatives living in Amritsar.
Essentially tradesmen, Sikh and Hindu families in Amritsar, Pakistan’s frontier provinces and further westwards in Afghanistan, have sustained mutual links despite being divided by political boundaries. The age-old trading in dry and fresh fruits, woollens and green tea has also helped keep these relations strong.
“We moved here from Peshawar during the tabaadla (exchange) of 1956. But many of our people stayed back in Pakistan and they have now landed in great trouble,” said Mr Anant Ram, a Sehajdhari Sikh who works at the local gurdwara at the Peshauri Mohalla in Amritsar.
The old Peshawar families of Amritsar say they are appalled at the persecution of their brethren, many of them blood relatives, in Pakistan. “I have many relatives who are suffering over there. The Pakistan government is doing nothing to help and they have been calling every day saying they fear even more persecution. My people have lost everything but the clothes they are wearing. There is simply no sense of security even though they have moved out of Swat,” said Mahant Lal Pishauri.
“These people are desperate to move out of Pakistan. Their homes were razed to the ground by Taliban and they can expect nothing from the government there. They are ready to come to Amritsar but say Indian visas are not easy to come by under the present circumstances,” said Mr Anant Ram who, like the others, is looking forward to host his Swat relatives.
Tags: Jijia Tax upon Sikhs in Pakistan, Persecution upon Sikhs in Pakistan, Shrinking Hindu-Sikh Community in Pakistan, Sikh in Pakistan, Sikhs under Talibani torture, Violation of Human Rights in Pakistan