KARACHI: A Hindu reporter was forced to drink water from a separate glass at his workplace since his colleagues found out that he belongs to the scheduled caste.
Sahib Khan Oad works as a senior reporter with government news agency, Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), where he has been barred from drinking water in the same glass and sharing utensils with other Muslim staff.
Oad hails from Dadu district and has completed his Master's from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. He is now pursuing MPhil in mass communication from Sindh University. He was initially appointed as a reporter in APP Islamabad and was transferred to Hyderabad and then Karachi in April this year.
The discriminatory attitude started soon after his younger son, Raj Kumar, visited his office and everyone found out that he was Hindu. "Actually my name contains the word 'Khan' so everyone in the office initially thought I was Muslim," he explained. "The bureau chief asked me to separate my drinking water glass in the office because some colleagues had reservations."
Since Ramazan started, Oad's work environment worsened. He is not allowed to sit at the same dining table at the time of Iftar and senior colleagues have suggested he bring his own plates and glasses if he wants to eat in the office. "I have now bought a separate glass and plate for the office," he said.
APP Karachi bureau chief Parvez Aslam denied making any such request. "He was suffering from flu so we suggested he arrange a separate glass," he said. Aslam pointed out that he supported Oad when he was transferred from Hyderabad and called the discrimination charges 'total propaganda'. "You can come to my office and see how he eats Iftar with us," he said.
Meanwhile, APP managing director Masood Malik said that they have started inquiry into the matter.
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), an organisation that works for labour rights, has written a letter to federal information minister Pervaiz Rashid against the discriminatory attitude.
"We are really shocked to know that a bureau chief of a government news agency has pressurised a reporter to drink in a separate glass because he is Hindu," wrote Piler executive director Karmat Ali.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2016.
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