While the rest of the country was feasting, three Hindu men were shot dead in cold blood in Shikarpur district on Eid day. The men who were killed were pillars of their community — a doctor and two businessmen. The unfortunate fact is that crimes against members of minority communities are often not investigated. The motivation for this crime seems pretty clear and so, if the police has the will, it should make arrests and convictions. The Hindu community had been a target in the area ever since three Hindu men were accused of sexually assaulting a Muslim girl, and it was only a matter of time before the tension spilled over into violence. Sadly, when a crime is committed by a minority against someone in the majority community, it usually leads to collective punishment. It goes without saying that this should not be allowed to stand.
Such murders will continue to occur and go unpunished as long as there is persecution of the Hindu community at the official level. A recent study by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom found that hatred for Hindus is instilled in official Pakistani textbooks. The study said that “Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty.” From a young age, Pakistanis are taught that being Hindu equates to being Indian, while the cultural and economic role played by the community in Pakistan is ignored.
Repression against the Hindu community is especially acute in Sindh. In recent years, young Hindu girls have been kidnapped and forced into marriage after being unwillingly converted to Islam. Local clerics claim that the girls willingly converted and so no crime was committed. In fact, they welcome the supposed ‘conversions’ for bringing more people to the Muslim fold. In Balochistan, too, where Hindus have been part of the community for centuries, they are now being forced to flee out of fear for their lives. All of this is taking place with officials turning a blind eye, even if they are not actually sanctioning it. The hope would be that the murders on Eid would be the last straw. Unfortunately, the history of violence against Hindus would make that diagnosis far too optimistic.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2011.