Minorities in Balochistan, particularly Hindus, are increasingly being kidnapped for ransom and forced to convert to Islam, according to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) Balochistan chapter.
As many as 50 people belonging to the Hindu community were kidnapped over the past three years and were freed after paying large sums of money in ransom, the HRCP’s Tahir Hussain and Zahoor Shahwani told the media.
The HRCP’s report expressed serious concerns over other human rights matters in the province, such as missing persons turning up as bullet-riddled bodies and incidences of target killing.
It also said that political activities to mobilise public opinion in Balochistan have come to a standstill, as no major political parties hold gatherings and rallies because of the current law and order situation.
Many Hindus have now stopped sending their children to school because of a lack of security. Traders, doctors and retailers are being kidnapped or threatened, said the chairman of the HRCP’s Balochistan chapter. He added that the son of a well-known Hindu doctor was recently kidnapped and a Hindu surgeon was kidnapped a month ago. He also said that most victims do not file a criminal case against their abductors out of fear.
Discovery of mutilated bodies of missing persons is on the increase. As many as 188 decomposed bodies have so far been dumped in Balochistan since June 4 last year.
Most of the victims were political leaders and activists and students. There have also been incidences of lawyers working on the cases of missing persons being killed.
Shahwani, a council member of the HRCP, said they had set up a special cell for collecting evidence and documents about missing persons. About 12 families submitted documents in connection with such cases. Those who ‘resurfaced’ were reluctant to record their statements and appear before the courts, he added.
According to the interior ministry, only 44 people are missing in Balochistan, while the relatives of missing persons in the province insist they have information about 1,300 missing persons.
The HRCP urged the government to refrain from brute force and instead concentrate on political solutions for Balochistan problems.
According to the HRCP, 83 people, including teachers, political activists and police officials, have been killed in 50 incidents of targeted killing this year, while 58 people had lost their lives and 74 were injured in 58 bomb blasts.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.