KARACHI: The forced conversion and marriage of young Hindu girls to Muslim men remains a grave problem for the Hindu community in Sindh: of the 15 cases of attacks against the community so far this year, five were reported as cases of kidnapping and forced conversion.
This was revealed at a press conference held by the Pakistan Hindu Seva (PHS) Welfare Trust and the Sindhi Hindu Youth Wing, Nawabshah, at Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.
"In only 20 per cent of the cases can it be said that conversion was voluntary and not forced upon the girl after abduction," said PHS head Sanjesh Dhanja. "We have no issue if someone opts for it on their own but in most cases, the girls are forced into it."
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According to the PHS, the Hindu community in Karachi faced land grabbing, attacks and kidnappings while forced conversions, incidents of temple burning, rape and murders were reported from Sakrand, Ghotki and Nagarparkar districts.
Pointing out that the culprits were released on bail even when caught, Dhanja made an appeal to the government for justice. "Even when Hindus consider themselves Pakistanis above all, they are treated as second-class citizens."
Sindhi Hindu Youth Wing's Vijay Kumar said that despite a five per cent quota, minorities were denied educational and job opportunities. "As a graduate student, I have been looking for work for three years," he said.
Highlighting the plight of Nawabshah’s Hindu community, he said that the elected representatives work for their own vested interests, while Nawabshah remained marginalised.
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Researcher Ravi Kumar Chouhan said that education and bonded labour were inextricably linked. "Feudal lords do not allow children to go to school, reasoning that no one will attend to their fields if they leave," he pointed out.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.