Qazi Ghulam Rasool Pali, home to around 450 flood victims in Umerkot district, stands distinguished among hundreds of inundated villages in Sindh; but not because of its Hindu-majority population.
It is because in the face of neglect from aid agencies and the government, while their houses are razed to the ground in the aftermath of the floods, the villagers stand united, Hindus and Muslims, landlord and peasants, alike.
Located in the Pithoro tehsil along Mirpurkhas-Umerkot road, Qazi Ghulam Rasool Pali’s residents make integrated efforts to subsist on their own, along with the help of their landlord. “We sell our goats in Mirpurkhas and buy rations from the money we earn,” says Wagio Bheel, an elderly of the village.
According to Bheel, the rations are distributed equally among the residents of the village. “Livestock owners, especially those who have more animals, go to the city with 10 to 12 goats. After selling them in the market, they return with the ration,” says villager Tharo Halepoto. He adds that this has been done twice so far.
During the recent trip, he said, they managed to sell nine goats for Rs51,000 — which is less than half the price in normal times. “Among the goats, three belonged to Hindus and six to Muslims but the distribution of the ration was equal,” Halepoto claims.
‘One village, one family’
People of eight different castes, including four of scheduled caste Hindus, inhabit the village. They all are workers of Imtiaz Pali, in whose father’s name the village was founded seven to eight years ago.
“The landlord kept providing us with free ration, mainly wheat and rice, for many weeks after the rains. Although he still contributes to our well being, we all realised that we should not put too much burden on him,” says resident Krishan Meghwadh.
According to Pali, the village houses around 130 families, mostly Hindus. Ninety per cent of the families, he adds, have been tilling his family lands for over a century.
“We live like a family. We have no difference while participating in each other’s religious festivities,” he says.
Although the village is located along Mirpurkhas-Umarkot road, which was being used as an alternate route to convey relief goods to areas of Tharparker district, no official or private assistance has reached them, the locals say.
Over a hundred tents made of urea and gunny bags and used clothes line an L-shaped link road which leads to the landlord’s house. “You will not find any tent here given by the government or private organisations,” says Wahid Arisar, another elderly. “It’s a natural calamity. We have lost crops this year,” says Pali. Nevertheless, he demands that the government should waive of the agricultural loans and offer fresh ones with a low mark-up and relaxation period.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2011.
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