As floods devastated settlements across both sides of the Indus River in 2010 and 2011, minority communities in Sindh had to deal with additional suffering as they found themselves not eligible for financial assistance by the government.
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research’s (PILER) Zulfiqar Shah and Upgrade Minorities for Integrated Development’s (UMID) Ravinash Hari and Shanti Devi shared the sufferings of the Dalit community after the 2010 floods during a press conference on Tuesday. “Minorities comprise four per cent of the country’s total population, but they were ignored during the floods of 2011,” said Shah.
Shah said that nearly two million Dalits, including Kohli, Meghwar, Bheel, Odh and Bhaghri, were living in Pakistan. “Muslims were given priority during the emergency phase by several religious and local [relief] organisations. Meanwhile, almost entire southern Sindh was hit by floods in 2011, which had mostly affected the minorities.”
Shah claimed that while a majority of flood victims were provided financial compensation in the form of Pakistan Cards, minorities were left out as they did not have national identity cards. “No national or international organisation conducted any survey to determine how many minority communities were affected.”
Shah alleged that Hindus were not allowed to get drinking water at some camps in Badin, and had to live in separate roadside camps. Badin is the second largest districts in Sindh for Hindus.
“The state ignored the minorities during rehabilitation and recovery phases. It is the basic responsibility of the government to treat citizens equally. Instead, it adopted a religion-based attitude,” said Ravinash Hari.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.