SUKKUR: The special team formed by President Asif Ali Zardari to listen to the grievances of minorities spent its second day in Sindh on Sunday, and conducted another round of meetings with minority rights activists and representatives in Jacobabad.
Leaders of the Hindu Panchayat brought up the issues facing their community in the country before the committee comprising Federal Minister for Political Affairs Maula Bux Chandio, Senator Hari Ram Kishori Lal and MNA Lal Chand.
“Hindus are Pakistani citizens and we respect them,” said Chandio while talking to media personnel.
Hindu Panchayat leaders from Jacobabad, Thull, Kashmore, Larkana, Sukkur, Shikarpur and other areas meet the legislators and complained that Hindu men were being regularly kidnapped for ransom, while Hindu girls were being kidnapped, forcefully converted and then married off to influential people. They also claimed that the five per cent quota for employment for minorities in government offices was not getting implemented.
While talking to The Express Tribune, lawyer and human rights activist Kalpana Devi said that while a majority of Muslims gave due regard to Hindus, a few people were busy in plotting conspiracies against their community. She gave the example of Manesha Kumari, who was recently kidnapped from Jacobabad, and then reportedly converted and married off to Ghulam Murtaza Channa. The girl, she said, was barely 14 years old.
Devi said that if a Hindu woman wished to marry a Muslim man of her own free will, then she should be first allowed to live in a tension-free environment for 15 days, and then allowed to reach a decision.
“We are only demanding the rights that are guaranteed to us by the constitution of this country,” chipped in Hindu Panchayat Thull president Ramesh Lal, before acknowledging that the three-member committee had listened to their grievances patiently and promised to redress them as well.
Meanwhile, the parliamentarians had continued their round of meetings on Saturday night, when they visited Sukkur and other areas. An elder of the Hindu community from Pano Akil, SG Mal Bhagiya, however, expressed his dissatisfaction with the role played by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government in safeguarding the rights of the minorities. He cited the recent controversy surrounding Rinkle Kumari (Faryal Shah), who was allegedly kidnapped and then forcibly converted to marry a relative of a PPP MNA from Daharki.
“We are displeased with our Hindu parliamentarians. But a majority of Hindus [still] vote for the PPP in general elections,” lamented Bhagiya.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.