KARACHI: Protests have erupted across Badin district in Sindh to condemn the mob, which dug out the body of a Hindu man buried in a Muslim graveyard.
Bhuro Bheel, who belonged to the Dalit caste, was laid to rest on Saturday and his body was dug out the next day. His body was exposed for nearly eight hours due to tensions between the two communities.
Apart from social media, the incident has been condemned by nationalist parties, civil society, writers, poets and others - all of whom condemned what the local clerics did in Pangrio village. Most Sindh residents believed that the image of Sindh as a province for the secular and Sufis has been portrayed negatively through this incident.
"Why don't you make separate schools and hospitals for Hindus and Muslims if you can't tolerate lifeless bodies in a graveyard," lashed out Ayaz Latif Palijo, the president of Qaumi Awami Tehreek.
Palijo also asked neutral residents of Badin districts and other areas to announce a social boycott of those who were involved in the incident.
Journalist and analyst Dr Ali Ahmed Rind felt that "an alien" culture was being imposed over Sindh. "It is an unnatural growth, like a tumour, in Sindhi society," he said, blaming the rise of seminaries in the province. "Not only in lower parts of Sindh but Hindus [Dalits] are buried in Muslim graveyards in upper parts of the province, including Dadu," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz vice chairperson Dr Niza Kalani said that this incident was "an attempt to obliterate the cultural heritage of Sindh". Dr Kalani visited Bhuro's family and ensured the Bheel community of his party's support. "There is no space for such acts in Sindh," he said. His party will hold a province-wide protest on October 10 (today).
According to sources, the supporters of the religious clerics in the area have also organised demonstrations to counter the nationalists' protests.
The tense air continues to blow in Badin's sleeping rural town, Pangrio, days after the desecration. As the offended community, civil society representatives and political leaders express their outrage, influential people are allegedly trying to protect the suspects.
The Pangrio police have nominated 20 suspects, including Zafar Arain, Khamiso Laghari and Akbar Khoso, in an FIR lodged by the deceased Bhuro Bheel's brother. However, no arrests have been made so far as some local influential men and the clerics want to end the dispute through negotiations.
According to sources, two local leaders belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Pir Hamid Shah Rashdi and Mir Zahid Hussain Talpur, Maulvi Mithan Sikandari, Qazi Abdul Basit and some clerics from Hyderabad have intervened on behalf of the accused persons. "They want us to quash the FIR and resolve the matter amicably," a source close to the bereaved Bheel family told The Express Tribune.
For its part, the police say they are conducting raids to arrest the suspects. "We have lodged an FIR and we are also hunting for the suspects but they haven't been caught so far," said SHO Farooq Nizamani, who replaced SHO Asghar Selaro after the latter was suspended following the incident.
Meanwhile, a few police officers claimed that their department is reluctant to arrest the suspects because they fear it will spark communal violence.
One of Bheel's family members said that some relatives had agreed for a settlement but Haji Masood Talpur, at whose agricultural land they work as peasants, opposed it. "He wants them to fight their case and get the wrongdoers punished according to the law." Talpur and other intermediaries could not be contacted but the two sides are scheduled to meet Wednesday night.
Bilawal Bhutto condemns
Pakistan Peoples Party patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked the government of Sindh to take strong action against the recent defiling of Hindu Dalit Bhuro Bheel’s body, which was removed from its grave and thrown outside the graveyard.
He expressed his sympathies towards Bheel’s family, promising them that they will be provided justice.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2013.
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