In continuation of the series of kidnappings that has shaken the Hindu community in Sindh and also Balochistan, two Hindus were kidnapped while travelling between Khipro and Mirpur Khas in a car. The reasons are unclear but logic suggests that Seth Sharo Mal Deewan and his cousin Dr Washu Mal Diwan were kidnapped for ransom. This is usually the case when wealthy Hindus are abducted. The fact that the amounts demanded as ransom are often paid jointly by a community under siege contributes to the high number of incidents taking place with criminals confident that they will be handed over the money they seek. The minority community naturally has little choice in the matter and has persistently complained of lack of assistance from the police.
For a long time, Sindh was considered a safe haven for Hindus. This is no longer the case. They have come under threat even in areas like Mirpur Khas, where Hindus and Muslims have lived side by side for generations, in some places making up an equal part of the population. The latest incident suggests why things could change soon. Reports of a planned exodus by Hindu families to India continue to come in. The latest report estimates nearly 1,000 families planning to leave their homes from various parts of Pakistan for India, while others have already migrated for the same reason.
The situation does not say much for our ability to protect minorities. The spate of kidnappings has been continuing for far too long. So, too, have other forms of harassments such as the coerced conversion and marriage of Hindu girls. The sense of insecurity among Hindus has clearly reached a peak. The question now is whether it is too late to turn things around. The statements made by politicians have not brought any results to the fore till now. This says very little for the law and order situation in various parts of our country, while the inability to protect our minuscule population of minorities have weakened over the years and consequently placing them in greater and greater peril.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2012.
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