Our vanishing Hindus

Published: June 13, 2016
Gokal Das was beaten for eating in Ramazan. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Gokal Das was beaten for eating in Ramazan. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Gokal Das was beaten for eating in Ramazan. PHOTO: EXPRESS The writer teaches at IT University Lahore and is the author of A Princely Affair: The Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan, 1947-55. He tweets at @BangashYK

Since the educational reforms a decade ago, everyone hears about the first president of the Constituent Assembly and the first law and labour minister of Pakistan, Jogendra Nath Mandal. Mandal’s existence is always taken as the critical proof that Pakistan was conceived as a pluralistic state and his patronage by the Quaid-e-Azam himself lends his figure credibility. However, very rarely do people ask: what actually happened to him, especially since he abruptly falls off the radar after that inaugural lauded mention.

Hindu man beaten for eating in Ramazan

Before we come to Mandal’s departure, let me give some statistics: at the time of the establishment of Pakistan, the non-Muslim population of West Pakistan was about 24.6 per cent, while non-Muslims formed about 30 per cent of East Bengal and Sylhet. When the assemblies for Pakistan were set up, 18 members of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan were non-Muslim, out of a total of 69, meaning about 26 per cent. Even in the West Punjab assembly after Partition, around 10 members [10 per cent] were non-Muslims. Hence, when Pakistan was established not only were non-Muslims in substantial numbers, they were also reasonably well represented in the assemblies too. However, very soon conditions changed and the non-Muslim percentage decreased to less than five per cent in West Pakistan. And if conditions do not change, even this percentage will disappear.

Mandal survived in Pakistan till October 1950 and then moved to India. He left sorely disappointed and forlorn since he had been working with the Muslim League sine 1943, and had developed a good working relationship with the party. However, as soon as Pakistan was established, cracks began to appear. The very first issue was that of the inclusion of scheduled caste members in the cabinet of East Bengal. As argued by Mandal in his letter and verified by other sources, the cabinet of first Sir Khawaja Nizamuddin and then Nurul Amin kept delaying the appointment of a scheduled caste member to the provincial cabinet even after several pleas from the central minister, leaving Mandal feeling that his “outspokenness, vigilance and sincere efforts to safeguard the interests of the minorities of Pakistan, in general, and of the Scheduled Caste, in particular, were considered a matter of annoyance to the East Bengal Government”.

More forced conversions going on than reported, says MP

Mandal then narrated several incidents of attacks on Hindus in East Bengal which culminated in the riots in Dhaka itself in February 1950 where arson, loot and murder against Hindus were the order of the day. This incident led to an exodus of Hindus to India which even the Delhi Pact on minorities could not stem, he narrated. Noting how Hindus were being treated he wrote: “The boycott by the Muslims of Hindu lawyers, medical practitioners, shopkeepers, traders and merchants has compelled Hindus to migrate to West Bengal in search of their means of livelihood. Wholesale requisition of Hindu houses even without following the due process of law in many and non-payment of any rent whatsoever to the owners have compelled them to seek for Indian shelter. Payments of rent to Hindu landlords was stopped long before.” All these reasons, and more, led Mandal to conclude that the condition of Hindus in Pakistan was “not only unsatisfactory but absolutely hopeless and that the future completely dark and dismal”.

Mandal wrote his ominous letter in October 1950 and then left for India, leaving behind the minorities perhaps at God’s mercy. Most of the atrocities against Hindus that Mandal noted continue in even stronger form today. Every year, nearly 1,000 non-Muslim girls are abducted and forced to convert to Islam, non-Muslims are routinely discriminated against in jobs, and people do not even like to eat or drink with them. Only the other day an octogenarian Hindu man was beaten up in a village in Sindh for eating during Ramazan, even when for Muslims at his age and health, fasting is not prescribed.

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For most people in Punjab, Hindus especially, are a breed they read about in books, since hardly any remain in the province, but in Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, we still find sizeable pockets of Hindus. Either we wake up soon and protect their rights or very soon they will vanish from the country, through forced conversions, rioting, or simply by moving to India, where now a special provision is being made for them due to their large numbers. It has been nearly 70 years since Partition, but it seems like we do not want to move on from it just yet. 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • BlackHat
    Jun 13, 2016 - 11:59PM

    One of the unfinished agenda of partition?

    The region of Pakistan having been a part of India before, India has and should exercise a moral responsibility for the well being of those people, especially those persecuted, if only on humanitarian grounds. Not to be mistaken for an open door policy, the option should be there for bonafide cases.

    We should remember that they have nowhere to go. Any and all Jews have Israel. May be ex-Indians should be allowed to immigrate if they are under duress and wish so. A generous move such as that may have a healing effect on the subcontinent.Recommend

  • Kavita
    Jun 14, 2016 - 12:12AM

    Dear Mr. Bangash, thank you for having the courage to write this piece. The fact is nobody cares about minorities in either Pakistan or Bangladesh. The situation is only going to deteriorate and there will be no Hindus left in either of these countries. The other ninority religions may take some more time to be wiped out.Recommend

  • Jun 14, 2016 - 1:35AM

    Prof. Bangash, Pakistan is the only country in the world going backwards. The harassment of non-Muslims by not just uneducated Qureshi but the so called rose Patle Lawyers will keep the country in Stone Age forever. And therefore intelligent Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and Parsis are returning to India for a better life. Sad but true Professor. If Ahmedias leave Pakistan, the country is done.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Jun 14, 2016 - 2:48AM

    Pakistan was created for Muslims of South Asia to be free from Hindu Oppressors. So called Hindus should accept Islam or should be free to go to “Secular” India…Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 4:13AM

    That is against Delhi Pact. If there are no Hindus in Pakistan then there should be no Muslim in India – that is what pact was about. India has continuously failed to implement the pact during 1971 genocide. Even in India Hindus are not safe in Assam, Kashmir Valley, Muslim majority villages and ghettos.

    Except Nehru and Gandhi, everyone wanted complete partition. Partition has not solved any issue for India.Recommend

  • Allin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 5:01AM

    HIndus,Sikhs and Christians have been living among Muslims in Pakistan for the last seven decades and yet they have not seen the light of Islam. The gentle Suffiana Islam have not stirred their sleeping soul.Whose fault is this? No harm if they all move to India or other places. Recommend

  • Syed Khader
    Jun 14, 2016 - 6:31AM

    “their sleeping soul.”

    Who has sleeping souls? It seems it is us- Muslims- who have let our souls go to deep slumber, we are committed to our fanaticism and intolerance as never before.
    In case you haven’t noticed, the article is about Muslims not protecting the tiny and powerless minorities among us. But when we are minority in another country we demand special favorable treatment.
    Again, who has sleeping souls?Recommend

  • Hindu-Muslim
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:23AM

    The ultimate message of Hinduism and Islam is same:Love.Its the politics which generates heat.Recommend

  • Sanjeev
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:54AM

    Will you accept all Muslims from India?. India will be glad to exchange all the Muslims from India by taking all non Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is one part of the partition which is not complete. India will ship all 180 million Muslims to you. Start making place for them to live.Recommend

  • ahmed41
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:54AM

    You write : ” ….Either we wake up soon and protect their rights or very soon they will vanish from the country, through forced conversions, rioting, or simply by moving to India, where now a special provision is being made for them due to their large numbers. It has been nearly 70 years since Partition, but it seems like we do not want to move on from it just yet. …”

    Waking up may not be the answer. A better social self-education across the country. First learn to respect and honour and understand the ” OTHER ” in your midst.

    This is a regional shame ! Recommend

  • PrakashG
    Jun 14, 2016 - 8:19AM

    Ironic that from this very country some go to the UN and talk about other peoples’ right of self-determination!Recommend

  • Freedom for Sindh
    Jun 14, 2016 - 8:34AM

    Pakistan is a failed state. The United Nations should intervene to either break up Pakistan or sweeping sanctions should be placed on Pakistan and these sanctions should only be lifted when Pakistan stops oppressing it minorities, including ethnic and LGBT minorities. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jun 14, 2016 - 9:19AM

    Hmmm, so all the Muslims living in The West should ALSO be able to see the light of Christianity and Judism! If they don’t convert then there would be no harm if they all moved back to the Mid East!Recommend

  • Cosmo
    Jun 14, 2016 - 9:21AM

    Am an Indian and I think u have made the worst possible argument. U r no body to send any Infian to Pakistan. Every India. Irrespective of the reigion has same rights. If u so hate muslims then u can please get lost from India. Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jun 14, 2016 - 10:10AM

    If we study how legislation has been made in Pakistan since 1947, it seems all the major goals have been achieved. Those who mistakenly believed that the kind of legislation introduced would build a liberal, progressive and vibrant Pakistan, were living in a parallel world. That the government has not been able to repeal a single black law, confirms that the mindset has not changed an iota since then, even though the fruits of policies and laws have been very bitter. The radical extremist forces that have been empowered have not just the Guns to impose their writ, they control the streets too. Not difficult to understand why terror groups have such wide support within and outside the government.Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Jun 14, 2016 - 10:13AM

    When your leader said – The minorities are free to go to their places of worship , he should have added – ” AT THEIR OWN RISK” Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 10:18AM

    Indian Muslims do not come under Indian constitution, they come under Delhi Pact. According to you India should be partitioned again then. Universal Sufism, rationality, True Furqan etc are banned in India. There is no law in India which says that if you dont believe in Muslim appeasement then you have to leave India. Sanjeev is demanding justice. To hate Muslims in subcontinent is to demand destruction of Pakistan which he never did.

    If Indian Muslims never wanted to move to Pakistan the why they created it, India cannot be an Islamic state for Indian Muslims.Recommend

  • Jimmy
    Jun 14, 2016 - 10:36AM

    @Ahmed………All secular countries like US, U.K. Europe, Australia etc:etc: were created to embrace all faiths regardless. Fanatic bigots like you and all mad Muslims should also, accept Christianity or Eff Off to where they came Fair?Recommend

  • kartikey
    Jun 14, 2016 - 11:41AM

    All Hindus Must come to india if they want live of their children…that is only solution…Nobody can leave with pakistani muslims even their own muslims are being killed every day… Recommend

    Jun 14, 2016 - 12:06PM

    All the muslims in this region are product of this forcefull conversion as present generation,s for fathers or family would have experianced this at that time as there was no muslim relegion was in this region only intruders (men only)force fully married this region,s women and got this presernt generation is the result, but no relegion preachus violance, people have not understand the muslim relegion themselves and following in wrong theory and bad name they are giving to themselveRecommend

  • R S Chakravarti
    Jun 14, 2016 - 12:28PM

    This is utter nonsense, that some Indians don’t come under the Constitution. Try saying this in court.Recommend

  • Brekhna
    Jun 14, 2016 - 2:15PM

    Pakistan is increasingly becoming singular but sane voices like that of the author are being heard. For my Indian friends who are rejoicing at the state of “intolerance” in Pakistan, please read the following article from a more credible source:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-racially-tolerant-countries/ Recommend

  • Khildoon
    Jun 14, 2016 - 2:37PM

    The whole column were based on single incident even where writer was not well aware of the fact.How can you say that 1000 Hindu girls are abducted per year and force them to Muslims.Mentioning wrong statistics to strengthen and creating sensations.is called “intellectual dishonesty” thats what writer has done.Yes we agree that in our country life of weak is miserable but it should not relate with any religion and build a story.Beating a poor guy for eating in Ramzan is condemn-able but at same it is not appreciating to eat publicly.
    Hindu’s women in our country are facing pathetic situation for marriage because of caste discrimination in Hindu religion and heavy dowry and thats why they opt other religion.Instead of resolving caste discrimination for low-caste hindus they find argument of forceful transformation of religion.Its quite disgusting
    Based on your column,Can we make a false story based on true fact that Krishan-Kumar, a male nurse rape a disabled Muslim girl of swat on Hospital bed in “Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences” was due to religion.Its not true because it has nothing to do with religion.Likewise when “Danish Kaneria” a renowned Pakistani test cricketer captured by ICC for match fixing and penalized. Now went to India and saying Pakistan didn’t support him because of religion.So how come a country support a guy who was involved in corruption and caught red handed.
    In the nutshell,now its a fashion to build a story based on single incident to abuse whole nation behavior. Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 3:06PM

    @R S Chakravarti:
    Courts have multiple times have said to bring Indian Muslims under constitution. You can visit Sharia courts in India.Recommend

  • Masood Ahmad Khan
    Jun 14, 2016 - 4:52PM

    I am really ashamed of what has been reported in the news being Muslim and part of a society I am living in.

    It is due to the bad investment made in the past to be a proxy of so-called world powers (US, Saudi Arabia) under the pseudo name of Islam.

    This crop is fully grown now and rectification is still seemed a far cry.Recommend

  • Insaaf
    Jun 14, 2016 - 5:25PM

    @Ahmed: “Pakistan was created for Muslims of South Asia to be free from Hindu Oppressors…etc”
    One problem with that argument : How can a minority of 5% or less be considered oppressors?Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:20PM

    LOL.I think Pakistanis desperately need to make a consensus among them. Some of you say that Muslims ruled India for 1000 years. If that is the case, how can Hindus be oppressor? May be you do not know the history but British took India away from Mughals and not HIndu kings. Or may be you are saying that Muslims, despite being rulers, were being oppressed by Hindus. Recommend

  • BlackHat
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:21PM

    @vinsin: Indian constitution alone is a striking testimony to the rejection of Two-Nation theory, even if in fact, India recognizes Pakistan as a sovereign state. The Delhi pact wasn’t anything like you put it, it does not endorse exchange of population (which is BTW totally impractical and not necessarily beneficial). It tries to ensure fair treatment of minorities in both countries.

    Well, if Indians truly upheld their constitution, they would be the best example to the rest of the world. There are many countries around the globe (Eg: Japan, Scandinavian countries, etc.) that are good role models for developing countries. The likes of Saudi Arabia are not.

    It is really important for developing countries to only and squarely focus on economic growth and wellbeing of the people. We should reject identity politics or politics of vengeance even if some events (such as persecution of co-religionists) occur somewhere, which will only debilitate us and derail our progress.

    It it would be preferable to concentrate on building constructive, multifaceted linkages and partner with countries around the world for empowering the people and their welfare.Recommend

  • BlackHat
    Jun 14, 2016 - 7:29PM

    @Masood Ahmad Khan: You are right. And it is a pity. That is the reason I feel people should reject identity politics because it is especially bad for a pluralistic country. It is nothing but fascism.

    You know, when a nation is led by someone without wisdom, foresight or vision this is what happens – people suffer. It is really hard to undo the damage.Recommend

  • IndianDude
    Jun 14, 2016 - 8:28PM

    I always enjoy reading Yaqoob Khan Bangash’s opinions. The author comes across as a good human being and a Muslim. This author and many others like Muhammad Hamid Zaman should be the torchbearer of opinions in Pakistan. Too often, non-sensical broken record of retired army officers and other mouthpieces of the establishment keep publishing as intellectual discourse.Recommend

  • Shuaib
    Jun 14, 2016 - 9:43PM

    Post partition the percentage of Hindus was incredibly low.Recommend

  • Yasin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 10:25PM

    @Kulbhushan Yadav

    Well put. You all have raised pertinent questions for all of us to ponder. Well done.Recommend

  • vinsin
    Jun 14, 2016 - 10:33PM

    Indian constitution support TNT. I never said Delhi pact support exchange of population. By Delhi pact India should wipe out all Muslims from India as there are hardly Hindus in Pakistan.
    Countries that you mentioned are secular, India is not. Well by your logic Indian should get partitioned again for India to progress.

    Secularism and economic progress are co related.Recommend

  • Babloo
    Jun 15, 2016 - 1:34AM

    If Pakistan is for Muslims only ( which is already the case after almost extermination of Hindus and Sikhs in W Pakistan in last 70 years ) then India is for Non-Muslims only.

    The idea at partition was that minorities in India and Pakistan would continue to live. Since Pakistan has not allowed Non-Muslims, particularly Hindus and Sikhs to live, India is fully entitled to reciprocate and not allow muslims to live in India.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jun 15, 2016 - 2:29AM

    I sympathise with the Hindus in Pakistan but if they leave and there are none left, it would not change anything in today’s Pakistan. Most people will hardly miss them and many would rejoice at their departure. Recommend

  • LS
    Jun 15, 2016 - 3:49AM

    Bunch of huey.. if that was the case there would be no discrimination.. there would not be a call to divide the nation which now stands divided into 3 parts.Recommend

  • Komal S
    Jun 15, 2016 - 7:42AM

    @Brekhna: There you go with a classic western bias on tolerance. Countries like India have the most diverse population. In India it is very common for people of one caste/religion live together. There were many historical reasons for this and many social benefits. This is not segregation, it is about finding strength in numbers, it is a safety net. The following questions would have been better for a place like India:
    How many of you are okay with your teachers being from a different caste/religion?
    How many of you are okay with your barber, driver, maid servant being from a different caste/religion?
    How many of you are okay with your boss or employees being from a different caste/religion?Recommend

  • observer
    Jun 15, 2016 - 8:38AM


    Very candid and noble write-up. Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. This has been going on for 1400 years in Muslim lands.Recommend

  • Fawad
    Jun 15, 2016 - 9:05AM

    “Every year, nearly 1,000 non-Muslim girls are abducted and forced to convert to Islam”
    No one cares it seems, if you think of it generations are converted this way and it used to happen before also, most people are progeny of centuries of conversions. Recommend

  • R S Chakravarti
    Jun 15, 2016 - 4:26PM

    @Allin: You are not a Sufi saint or anything close to it, if you think everyone should adopt your religion. I needn’t mention the well know group with such views.Recommend

  • observer
    Jun 15, 2016 - 11:46PM


    “The gentle Suffiana Islam have not stirred their sleeping soul.”

    Sufism has been declared un-Islamic by all the main Islamic sects. The mystical thoughts of Sufism have been borrowed from Hinduism and have nothing to do with Islam.

    It looks like you understand neither Sufism nor Islam.Recommend

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