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Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Future of Hindus in Pakistan is Bleak: India Today


The resignation of MLA Ram Singh Sodha, 67, from Pakistan’s Sindh provincial Assembly last year, and migration with his family to Kutch had created waves both in India and Pakistan. His move was seen as a signal of the increasing persecution of Hindus by radical Islamists in Pakistan. Sodha, a lawyer, spoke to India Today’s Senior Editor Uday Mahurkar in Nakhatrana in Kutch but he was cautious, as many of his relatives are still in Pakistan. Excerpts:

Q. How do you see the situation in Pakistan today?

A. Pakistan still has a large number of moderate Muslims willing to live cordially with Hindus but they have been overwhelmed by the fear of the bombs and guns of militant Wahhabis who are ready to die while killing their religious rivals. The situation is turning grave though things are better in lower Sindh where the local Sindhi Muslims follow Sufism and take care the Hindus.

Q. What was the immediate provocation for you to flee Pakistan?

A. Militant Wahhabism has almost entered upper Sindh, travelling down from Punjab. Unless a miracle happens, it’s a matter of time before it percolates to lower Sindh too. I migrated as a long-term self-preservation measure. Plus, we Sodhas of lower Sindh have always married in the Jadeja Rajput clan in Kutch. So we have historical ties on this side. Otherwise there was no immediate provocation for me to leave Pakistan.

Q. Do you fear retaliation? Is that why you are hiding the real truth?

A. Not at all. I will speak only the truth. You can’t ignore the fact that militant Muslims are targeting moderate Muslims with more violence.

Q. What is the difference between Jinnah’s Pakistan and today’s Pakistan?

A. In Jinnah’s Pakistan, religious minorities were protected while in today’s Pakistan, even moderate Muslims who want to peacefully co-exist with people of other religions are insecure now. Jinnah’s word was betrayed immediately after his death but the real change came in the ’70s when General Zia-ul-Haq gave a long rope to radical Islamists taking advantage of the Afghan war. He also created separate electorates for Hindus thus virtually making them second-class citizens.

Q. What is that thing that amazes you the most in Pakistan?

A. The irony that the land which produced Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, should produce the most dreaded Islamic militants on the face of the earth.

Q. When was the first time that you felt insecure in Pakistan?

A. In 1986-87 when, in reaction to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in India, some temples were vandalised in Sindh province.

Q. What is the solution?

A. Both India and Pakistan should wage a joint war against the militants and I am of the firm opinion that the common people of both the countries want aman (peace) from the violence of the militants.

Q. What will be the fate of Hindus of Pakistan?

A. Apart from the worsening religious situation, the fate of Hindus also depends on the Indian Government. The government should be more liberal in its treatment. A Hindu Pakistani migrant gets citizenship only after seven years of stay in India, during which time he cannot work or even start a business. This minimum period should be brought down to three. As for Hindus who choose to stay in Pakistan, their future appears bleak.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Hindus

 

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A human rights defender booked on murder charges: Send your letters


Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a human rights defender, who belongs to the Kohli group, a scheduled caste Hindu, was booked in a murder case whereas on the day of murder of a land grabber he was 500 kilometers away. He was attending a daylong conference of the civil society on the issue of Eighteenth amendment in the constitution and provincial autonomy. In 2010 he was abducted by the land grabbers who were also involved allegedly in the rape of a 17 years old Dalit girl. He was severely beaten during his captivity and was intimidated for raising his voice for the rights of the Dalits who have been bonded labourers for decades.

The police and a provincial minister are providing protection to the perpetrators. The provincial minister is allegedly involved in grabbing the land where the precious China Clay was found.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On May 20, 6:00 am, a group of land grabbers attacked a village of Vishnoo Kolhi, Nagar Parker sub-district, Sindh province and opened firing directly at the villagers to vacate their houses, seriously injuring four persons; Mr. Eshwar, Mr. Mohan, Mr. Hari, and Mr. Kombho who received bullet wounds. After heavy firing the villagers came out to defend the women and children and captured a few accused from whom they confiscated their guns which they later handed over to the police. The attackers names are Salah Shoro, Luqman Shoro, Mataro Shoro, Shafique Shoro, Rahib Shoro, Ranjho Shoro, Qadir Shoro Akbar Shoro, came to rescue his partners and in such circumstance one attacker, Saleh Shoro, was injured. He was taken away by the attackers and they escaped. He later died.

Instead of filing the cases of attacking villagers with deadly weapons and injuring villagers, police filed the case of murder against those persons who were residing 500 kilometers away from the place of the incident. Mr. Veerji Kolhi was among the persons who were booked on murder charges. Veerji is a prominent human rights defender and works with ASHAA and Mehargarh organizations, particularly on the issue of bonded labour. He has obtained the release of many women, children and men from the feudal lords of the district where there is a sizeable number from Kolhi community reside.

The other persons who were booked on charges of murder are Mr. Naboo Kohli, father of a 17 year old Dalit, who was raped by four persons who were released on bail before arrest by the session court, Mithi, though being a heinous case the bail before arrest cannot be granted without a proper investigation. Please see the urgent appeal Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-027-2010. Mr. Lakhan Kohli, the eye witness of the rape of the girl, Mr. Damro Kolhi, the uncle of Veerji, were also booked in the murder case.

Veerji was then abducted by the land grabbers in August 2010 and kept for several days and was severely tortured. He was told by the abductors not to pursue the case of rape of 17 years old Kastoori, a Dalit girl, and disassociate himself from the movement against the land grabbing. In the case of a young Hindu abducted from the police station by a religious mob (Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-097-2011) Veerji was among the activists who provided shelter to him when young Hindu ran away from the custody of abductor after nine months of captivity by the Muslim leaders of the Madina Masjid, Mirpurkhas, Sindh. Veerji used to be a bonded labourer, indentured with his family to a landlord, who design debts that can never be repaid and hold people hostage for labour in lieu of payment. He escaped as a teenager and found the resources to free his family. Since then, he has worked tirelessly for the cause of bonded labourers. From Nagarparkar, one of the poorest and most deprived districts of Pakistan in Thar Desert, he is a low caste Hindu, but from the towering caste of those who gives hope.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The land of nearby Nagarparkar area has been the property of Kolhi community for centuries. Recently some tribes started digging the soil of Kolhi community to transport precious clay to urban areas. The local Kolhi community observed several processions and demonstrations for this injustice. But the Shoro and Khoso tribe people supported by influential started threating Kolhis and started occupying lands of Kolhis. Same threats received to Vishnoo Kolhi of Village Bandhi some 12 kilometers away from Nagarparkar to leave the village otherwise they will kill him and all the villagers. Durga Mata temple is one of the two temples where the Hindus always go and pay their respects on this day, making it a significant part of their religion. According to him, around 200,000 pilgrims flock to the temple for the festival. Although the digging stopped while the mela continued, the pilgrims were dismayed at the project.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write the letters to the authorities about the false case of murder against a human rights defender and the father and other relatives of a rape victim who were residing 500 kilometers far from the incident of murder. Please urge the authorities to with draw the case of murder against them and take stern action against the local police who acted on the powerful land grabbers for filing the false cases against the innocent persons. Please also urge them initiate the inquiry into the land grabbing of Hindu Dalit population who are residing there since centuries.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders calling for her intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: A human rights defender was booked on murder charges for raising the cases of scheduled caste Hindus

Name of victims:
1.Mr. Veerji Kolhi,
Coordinator Mehergarh, house number, 11/150 Street 1 Abdullah City Qasimabad,
Hyderabad, Sindh
2. Mr. Naboo Kohli
3. Mr. Lakhan Kohli
4. Damro Kolhi,
All are the resident of Abdullah City Qasimabad, Hyderabad, Sindh
5. Mr. Eshwar,
6. Mr. Mohan,
7. Mr. Hari,
8. Mr. Kombho
All are resident of Vishnoo Kolhi goth, Nagar Parker sub-district, Sindh province,

Names of alleged perpetrators:
1.Saleh Shoro,
2. Luqman Shoro,
3. Mataro Shoro,
4. Shafique Shoro,
5. Rahib Shoro,
6. Ranjho Shoro,
7. Qadir Shoro
8. Akbar Shoro
All are resident of Nagarparker, district Tharparker, Sindh province
Date of incident: May 20, 2010
Place of incident: Vishnoo Kolhi goth, Nagar Parker sub-district, Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the registration of a false case of murder against a human rights defender and other persons who are from the Hindu scheduled cast of Dalit.

According to my information that on May 20, 6:00 am, a group of land grabbers attacked a village of Vishnoo Kolhi, Nagar Parker sub-district, Sindh province and opened firing directly at the villagers to vacate to the houses, seriously injuring four persons; Mr. Eshwar, Mr. Mohan, Mr. Hari, and Mr. Kombho who received bullet wounds. After heavy firing the villagers came out to defend the women and children and captured a few accused and took away two guns which they later handed over to the police. The attackers names are Salah Shoro, Luqman Shoro, Mataro Shoro, Shafique Shoro, Rahib Shoro, Ranjho Shoro, Qadir Shoro Akbar Shoro, came to rescue his partners and in such circumstance one attacker, Saleh Shoro, was injured and was taken away by the attackers and they escaped but died later.

It is shocking for me that instead of filing the cases of attacking villagers with deadly weapons and injuring villagers, police filed the case of murder against those persons who were residing 500 kilometers away from the place of incident. Mr. Veerji Kolhi was among the persons who were booked on Murder charges. Veerji is a prominent human rights defender and work with ASHAA and Mehargarh organizations and working on the issue of bonded labour and got released many women, children and men from the feudal lords of the district where the a sizeable number from Kolhi community reside.

I am appalled to know that the other persons who were booked on charges of murder are Mr. Naboo Kohli, father of 17 years old Dalit, who was raped by four persons who were released on bail before arrest by session court, Mithi, though being a heinous case the bail before arrest cannot be granted without a proper investigation. Please see the urgent appeal Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-027-2010. Mr. Lakhan Kohli, the eye witness of the rape of the girl, Mr. Damro Kolhi, the uncle of Veerji, were also booked in the murder case.

I am further informed that Veerji was then abducted by the land grabbers in August 2010 and kept for several days and was severely tortured. He was told by the abductors not to pursue the case of rape of 17 years old Kastoori, a Dalit girl, and disassociate himself from the movement against the land grabbing. In the case of a young Hindu abducted from the police station by a religious mob (Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-097-2011) Veerji was among the activists who provided shelter to him when young Hindu ran away from the custody of abductor after nine months of captivity by the Muslim leaders of the Madina Masjid, Mirpurkhas, Sindh. Veerji used to be a bonded labourer, indentured with his family to a landlord, who design debts that can never be repaid and hold people hostage for labour in lieu of payment. He escaped as a teenager and found the resources to free his family. Since then, he has worked tirelessly for the cause of bonded labourers. From Nagarparkar, one of the poorest and most deprived districts of Pakistan in Thar Desert, he is a low caste Hindu, but from the towering caste of those who gives hope.

I urge you to take the stern action against the Nagarparker police, Tharparker police station, Sindh province, for acting on behalf of the land grabbers and filing false case of murder against a human rights defenders and others who are already victim of the powerful people of the area in the case of a rape of a Dalit girl in 2010.

Please also withdraw the false case of murder and initiate inquiry in to the case of land grabbing in the Nagarparker where the scheduled caste Hindus are living since centuries and they are illegally displaced by force for excavating the precious China clay.

I therefore, urge you to take immediate and proper steps against the perpetrators.

Yours sincerely,

—————-
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801/9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

3. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
Chief Minister
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000
E-mail: pppsindh@yahoo.com

4. Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

5. Mr. Muhammad Ayaz Soomro
Minister for Law, Parliamantry Affairs & Criminal Prosecution Service
Sindh Assembly Building,
Court road, Karachi, Sindh province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9211982
E-mail: secy.law@sindh.gov.pk

6. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

7. Ms. Nadia Gabol
Minister for Human Rights
Government of Sindh,
Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9207044
Tel: +92 21 9207043
E-mail: lukshmil@yahoo.com

8. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

9. Inspector General of Police
Police Head office, I. I. Chundrigar road
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9212051
E-mail: ppo.sindh@sindhpolice.gov.pk

Thank you.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Hindus, Petitions

 

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Minorities suffer beyond borders…


The Church after the attack

I am not writing it in defence of this country-Pakistan- or presenting any justification of what abnormality the country has shown towards the minorities. But a broader picture of the injustice committed against the marginalized sections of the society suggests that Pakistan has joined the ship where other countries including the Arab world also do their bit.

The clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo have given the country a tough time, leaving 51 people injured, according to the health ministry. The week-long clashes broke out following an attack on two churches which has taken 12 precious lives.

Attacking churches does not sound new to our ears as we have seen it happening in Pakistan for multiple reasons. The comparison I am drawing here that the root cause of this attack happened far away in Egypt is found here commonly and has flared up people’s emotions to the extent that they burnt Christians alive in past. Some Muslims in Cairo surrounded the church demanding Christians to hand over a woman, they said Christians had detained after she converted to Islam and left her Christian husband to marry a Muslim.

In protest, when Christians were staging a sit-in outside the state television building, an altercation between a Muslims and Christians has further intensified the situation. A protest mourning the killing of 12 people brought injuries to 51 other people. It is not a good situation and the queasy feeling it has stirred are hard to counter. The danger for something worse is now lurking in the minds and hearts of 10 to 15 million of Christians in Egypt who are called Copt.

Christians clash with police and Muslims

Religion is not a property which empowers anyone enough to decide others fate and assigns his new role as a custodian of any religion. Muslims must prepare themselves of letting go of the feeling that they are somewhat ‘superior’ because God has sent them the last Holy Book—Quran.  There is no Jabar, force, allowed when one preaches religion as your actions speak louder than words. The precedent the Islamic world is setting is unacceptable because a ‘perfect world’ does not exist. A world only for Muslims will again not bring any solution because they themselves are divided and any new sect is enough to challenge their little kingdom they are building on the blood of innocent people.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13403504

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Christians

 

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OBL: The Church is scared…


Osama Bin Laden– a nightmare for the US, but a pal for many including a lot of Pakistanis–is dead. The man has left many conspiracy theories behind him and a whole debate on future bilateral relationship of the US and Pakistan. Many mourned his death in a manner one could do for his loved ones whereas many kept assuming the possibilities with much skepticism. This is how Pakistanis must have felt generally, but a country where its minorities are victimized for every sin, their fear of a possible backlash is genuine.

What is true has no significance here that those Pakistanis who believe in other religions and sects have no direct link to this killing which determines their zero share in the punishment too. But in the land of ifs and buts, the Christians have a feeling that Taliban tend to attack their churches as acts of vengeance. Taliban and many ordinary citizens would look at the ‘OBL operation’ as an invasion in a Muslim country which offers an excuse to announce Jihad against Christians.

The concern for the safety of Christians in Pakistanis high and explained very well by the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore, Lawrence Saldanha. “Christians could face a backlash and we are a soft target as they cannot attack America. We demand security. The government should control any retaliation,” he said.

The bigger picture tells that the government and for that matter any institute lack a will to protect the worship places of other religions, let alone the Christians. The backlash nightmare is turning into reality and people regardless of their religion are being killed. The churches, mosques, mandirs, and gurdwaras including their followers are still vulnerable and if the government decides to provide these places with security.  I doubt if it could be of any help.

But the situation in Gujranwala indicates that something is cooking and that isolates Christians only. The Quran burning so far has proven the most powerful and effective excuse when the mob decides to take revenge or settle the scores. Same happened in this case too. The blasphemy laws strike again when two men– Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh– were taken into police custody for questioning and found guilty. Muslims have reacted angrily, held protests and vandalized Christian homes and a school. Some 3,000 Christians have fled the area fearing for their lives and the police failed to control the situation.

I tried to imagine other possible outlets through which the Muslims could react, but I could only come up with the accusations of blasphemy. It is a successful recipe to flare up people emotions and one does not need to present evidences to prove the offense. The police quietly succumb to the pressure and let go of the investigation part, the little blasphemy laws allow. Osama has gone and I believe the world will not fall apart without him. The US and Pakistan will eventually normalize the relationship as world believes in coexistence. Neither OBL nor the US will ever come to your rescue but those who share the same country, culture, and traditions will be on your side. Do not isolate your own people even if they believe in other Holy Books. They are and will always be Pakistanis.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Blasphemy, Christians

 

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