As the provincial and federal governments try to contain the fallout from initial reports that Hindus were leaving the country for India in droves, the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) demanded on Saturday that the country would be better served by remembering its founding father’s speech regarding minorities, which he delivered on August 11, 1947.
PHC patron in chief Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani also took minority legislators in the country to task, and said that, “They are unaware of issues [facing our communities] at the grassroots level”. He added that these legislators were not elected by the people, but were chosen by their respective political parties.
The PHC head also criticised the Sindh government for ignoring the cases in which Hindus are being kidnapped for ransom and Hindu girls are being forcefully converted in Sindh. “Conversion in the name of marriage is not justified. Hindus don’t want to migrate, but the situation forces them to move,” said Vankwani.
According PHC’s estimate, Hindus constitute nearly 5.5 per cent of the country’s population, 93.33 per cent of whom reside in Sindh. PHC also claims that nearly 17 per cent of Sindh’s population, or 6,842,526 people, are Hindus.
“No Hindu is recovered without paying ransom. While the government rescues a military official within a week, it does not bother to look for a [missing] Hindu for 10 months,” said PHC president Jethanand Doongarmal Kohistani.
“We only demand security. [Most of us] are businessmen, and contribute a lot to the country’s economy. However, a family is torn apart when their girl is kidnapped and then [forcefully] converted,” said PHC’s Seth Jethani Mal.
Minister visits Sukkur
A three-member team headed by federal minister for political affairs Maula Bux Chandio visited Sukkur and met with members of the Hindu community at the Shri Ram Temple on Saturday. Office bearers of Hindu Panchayat and a large number of community members were also present during the meeting.
Chandio, who was flanked by Senator Hari Ram Kishori Lal and MNA Lal Chand, told media personnel that the perception that Hindus were migrating to India on a large scale was wrong. “I have been told by the Hindu Panchayat president that many Hindu families have shifted to Canada, UK and USA, for their children’s higher education and better future, and not because of lawlessness [in Pakistan],” said Chandio.
He said that more than 200 Hindus had left for India during the last few days to visit religious sites. “Hindus go India [from here] throughout the year, visit their sacred sites, and then come back.”
He added that people in Sindh and Balochistan, in particular, and regardless of their religion, were being victimised by criminals. “Muslims and Hindus are both being kidnapped for ransom.” Legislation to deal with the issue of kidnapping and eventual conversion of Hindu girls was under consideration in the National Assembly as well as the Sindh Assembly, added the minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.