KARACHI: Every April, 55-year-old Ganga Ram Motiyani would roll up his sleeves, line up meetings with police officials, overlook the purchase of various items and ingredients, and manage logistics for the thousands of Hindus who flock to the cave temple of Hinglaj Mata in Balochistan to attend a four-day ritual.
This year, however, Motiyani was unable to prepare.
On the afternoon of April 6, just two days before the ritual, men clad in security forces uniforms picked him up from a general store he ran under the pretext that he had been summoned by a local police Deputy Superintendent (DSP).
That was the last time his family and friends saw him.
A month and a half since the incident, police have been unable to trace the Hindu leader, while his abductors’ identity and affiliation remain unclear. Were they security personnel, militants or members of a kidnapping ring?
“We don’t know who these men were,” said Bela SHO Ataullah. “But we are sure it was not the police who took him away. The men took the DSP’s name but he was not in Bela at that time. I cannot really say where he is and who picked him up.”
Motiyani’s family went to the Bela police station an hour after he was picked up but were shocked to find that he was not there. According to his brother Lila Ram, when they telephoned Motiyani he replied he was mistaken about the DSP and said the men who took him claimed he was summoned by an army major. Motiyani’s phone has been switched off since.
The apparent kidnapping has sent shockwaves across the 500 Hindus families living in Bela. Mukhi Shaam Laal, a member of the committee which Motiyani belongs to, said the people are extremely frightened by the incident, which was the first of its kind in the area.
“No one knows why he was picked up and by whom,” said Shaam Laal.
For Balochistan’s Hindu community, the disappearance is the latest in a worrying trend. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted that up to 25 Hindus were kidnapped from different parts of Balochistan last year, only to be released after heavy ransoms were paid.
“A top security official recently stated that 78 gangs in the province were kidnapping people, including minorities,” Hussain said.
The community is frustrated that the authorities have been of little use. A patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Ramesh Kumar, said no one was cooperating. “Our only demand from the government is his immediate recovery, and protection for the Hindu community in Balochistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.
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