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Sign a petition: A Hindu community is attacked and evicted on Blasphemy charges

27 Aug

What saddens me is the fact that not a single incident could teach a lesson to those who are biased and believe in vested interests. Protests generated within civil society, people, and human rights organizations could not so far put a halt on future violations of human rights. It piles up lot of frustration and I can well imagine that those who have spent their lives in a hope to create a peaceful and fair environment for minorities here in Pakistan must be shaken with a new wave of extremism. But, defending human rights is a long and unending process which is shaken but can never be collapsed.

Once again, blasphemy comes for the rescue of extremist forces when a Muslim mob attacked Hindu families in Sindh. They have been living in Mirpurkhas for almost a century and on an accusation of writing abusive language against Prophet (PBHU), they had to vacate their houses. Angry mob burned three houses belonging to Hindus and many children and women were assaulted. Seven Hindus were arrested on blasphemy charges. Police and rangers tried hard to control the situation, but it kept going out of their control. One innocent Muslim died in crossfire; whereas one ranger got injured.

If one goes back in the context, it is understood that the whole chaos and hatred do not base on religion rather it is pure material. Land grabbing is not new to me rather I have observed that it has been one of the most prominent reasons leading to attacks on minorities. This case is not so different. The role of a Maulvi (religious cleric) in flaring up the mob emotions is condemnable. The job of religious clerics is just not to become custodians and authority on religion rather guiding people on right path is their supreme duty. The bias and hatred in Maulvis play an important role in dividing people further, quite opposite to what they are supposed to do. In many cases with some exceptions, loudspeakers of Mosque are used to assemble and then motivate people to attack minorities in the name of Islam. The implementation of any law has always been a hard task and carries many weaknesses. Same goes for “Loud Speaker Act 1965” in which Section 3 prohibits use of loudspeaker except for prayers. In 2004, it was made compulsory, but due to having no check and balance system, it was never implemented fully. The misuse has a horrifying side to it which made killing and all sort of violence possible against minorities.

The demand to repeal blasphemy laws by human rights defenders is becoming stronger especially under the given perspective. These laws are meant to target one section of society which has an equal right to live here peacefully. The intolerance has plagued the society which has infected majority of people. Sane voices are becoming rare and sensitive minds are becoming oblivious. It is not a good sign and we all have to raise our voices against extremism and religious intolerance to defeat the extremist forces.

Everyone please sign the petition to prove that we are on the right path and humanity is the greatest religion.

Below is the story:

PAKISTAN: A Hindu community is attacked and evicted on fabricated
Blasphemy charges, houses burned causing death of a person by firing

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information
that a Muslim group attacked on a Hindu community that had been living
there for a century during the early hours on 23 August 2010 in order
to grab the land occupied by the Hindu community in Sindh Province of
Pakistan. The Hindu community, who are minority in Pakistan, had been
forced to vacate their houses and assets from the area. Three houses
were burnt by the Muslim attackers. Many women and children were
assaulted and seven Hindu men were arrested on fabricated charges of
Blasphemy for writing abusive language against the last prophet (peace
be upon him) of Islam on the walls around the mosque. The loudspeakers
of the mosque were used to provoke the Muslim residents to attack on
the Hindu community. A young Muslim man was killed during the exchange
of firing between the attackers and the Pakistan Rangers.

The government authorities have not taken any initiative to protect
the minority community till date.

CASE NARRATIVE:

A centuries-old Hindu community had settled in Mir Wah Gorchani city,
Mirpurkhas district of Sindh province and their main settlement were
known as the Bhemo Mal Megwar colony and Metha Ram Megwar Para. The
total population of the Hindus in the area is more than 400 and the
community has been in existence before the formation of Pakistan.

In the early hours of 23 August 2010, at around 2am, Maulvi Mushtaq
Ahmed Naqshbandi, a leader of the local mosque and Jamia Siddiqia
seminary, announced through the loudspeakers that there was some wall
chalking in which abusive words had been written against the last
prophet (Peach be upon him) of Islam by the Hindus. He provoked that
the people should come out from houses to teach the Hindu community a
lesson. When some people asked for proof that the Hindus were
responsible for the chalking Maulvi said that a truck driver had
informed him that when he was entering the area near the mosque he saw
a young man standing at the wall and after seeing the driver he (young
man) ran away towards the Hindu community of Bhemo Mal Megwar. The
driver saw the wall chalking and he quickly informed this to Maulvi.

Maulvi also provoked the Muslim inhabitants to search the houses of
the Hindus and find the young man whose hand must be stained with
black ink. Around 50 persons under the leadership of Maulvi started
searching each house during which women were dragged by the hair out
from the houses in their sleeping garments conditions; children were
kicked to force them to leave the houses. There were 60 houses and it
took three hours to search for the man suspected of the blasphemy but
no such person was found in the community. When the situation
deteriorated after the humiliation of the Hindus and the threats from
the Muslims to burn the Hindu-houses, a police party under district
police officer of Mirpurkahs arrived and started controlling the mob
of more than three hundred Muslims. The angry mob started pelting the
police with stones shouting slogans to burn down the houses of the
Hindus. The mob then burned three houses and looted the belongings of
the community.

In the meantime the loudspeakers of the mosque were continuously used
to provoke the Muslims to attack the houses of Hindus of Bhemo Mal
Megwar that might have provided shelter to the person, who had written
blasphemous writings on the walls around the mosque. The mob was
swelling and going out of control so the Rangers were called to help
the police in controlling the mob. As the Rangers came some miscreants
used fire arms during which one Ranger, Mr. Haq Nawaz, received a
bullet injury. The rangers and police used tear gas shell and baton
charged the mob. On the demand of the Muslim leaders seven Hindus were
arrested on the charges of Blasphemy. The arrested persons were Mr.
Faqeero, Mr. Kirchand, Mr. Mukesh, Mr. Kishan, Mr. Prem and Mr. Heroo
Ram Chand. One possible reason for their arrest is that they were the
only persons available at that time as the Hindus fled the area to
take shelter in other places. The minority community also left all
their belongings and animals that have been without water and fodder
since then.

One young Muslim man, Mohammad Imran, was killed by gunfire. In the
funeral prayers one particular person attended. He is Pir Aube Jan
Sarhandi, from Sanghar city, of Sindh province, and is known in the
area along the Indian border to convert Hindu women to Islam by
abducting them. He openly claims that he has converted 2000 Hindus to
Islam.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

The Bheemo Mal Megwar Para has been a registered Hindu colony since
the creation of Pakistan but the area around this village is mostly
unregistered where many settlers from the Punjab province and migrants
from India have settled and made their houses. In recent days some
land grabbers have also grabbed the land of Musafir Khana, a public
land, and constructed well concrete houses with the connivance of the
officials of the land department. A journalist, Mr. Rana Jameel Ahmed
and one Haji Khalid Papoo have made their houses in front of the main
road to Bheemo Mal Para, narrowing down the path towards Bheemo Mal.
Observing the threatening situation the Hindu community made a wall
around their settlement and erected an iron gate, both of which were
demolished by an angry mob during the above mentioned incident on 23
August. It is alleged that government sent some officers from land
department of Sindh to vacate the grabbed land but the officials made
some settlement with the illegal occupants of the government land. The
alleged grabbers also received help from the mosque leaders.

The same method was applied last year by the alleged land grabbers in
Soomra colony of Mirpurkhas where, during the Hindu festival of Holy
(colour festival) two Hindu communities, the Kohli para and Bheel
Para, were attacked on the false charges of writing blasphemous words.
The Hindus had to leave the area and moved to other places. The land
grabbers have purchased the land from these two communities at throw
away prices.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The dark aspect of the incident is that extreme, militant Muslim
organizations are using the tool of blasphemy as the best way to keep
religious minority groups under pressure. The State is failing to
protect the lives and property of the minority community. The
blasphemy law has made it compulsory that no police officer below the
level of Superintendent of Police can investigate the charges but this
is rarely adhered to.

Religious minority groups in Pakistan remain vulnerable due to the
continued use and abuse of blasphemy charges, despite section 295C of
the Pakistan Penal Code. The police, who fail to follow the code and
who operate under the directive of extremists in the community, must
face strong legal action. Charges of blasphemy are still met with the
death penalty in Pakistan.

The misuse of loudspeakers is continuous in Pakistan despite the
Section 3 of the Loud Speaker Act 1965. And again in 2004 it was made
compulsory that loudspeakers from mosques can be used only for call of
prayers and Friday sermons in Arabic language. But the irony is that
mosques’ leaders are frequently using the loudspeakers and the state
is ignoring the acts of Muslim religious groups which result in
spreading hatred against the religious minority groups.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities urging them to take stern
action against the persons responsible for attacking on the
century-old settlements of the Hindu community. Please also urge the
authorities to stop the misuse of Blasphemy law. The misuse of
loudspeakers from the mosques should be stopped. The government should
help the displaced Hindu community for their rehabilitation in their
own settlements. Maulvi Mushtaq should be arrested and prosecuted on
the charges of misusing loudspeakers from the mosque and taking search
of the houses of the Hindu community illegally. The government should
also provide compensation to the family of the Muslim man, Mr.
Mohammad Imran, who was killed during the firing from the extremist
elements.

To support this appeal, please click here:
<http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAC-119-2010>

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Hindu community was attacked and evicted on false charges
of Blasphemy, one person killed by firing

Names of the victims:

1. Mr. Faqeero

2. Mr. Kirchand

3. Mr. Mukesh

4. Mr. Kishan

5. Mr. Prem

6. Mr. Heroo Ram Chand,

All are living in Bheemo Mal Megwar Para,Mir Wah Gorchani city,
Mirpurkas district, Sindh province

7. Inhabitants belonging to the Hindu Community settled in Bheemo Mal
Megwar Para, Mir Wah Gorchani city, Mirpurkas district, Sindh province

8. Mr. Mohammad Imran, died in exchange of firing, Mir Wah Gorchani
city, Mirpurkas district, Sindh province

Names of alleged perpetrators:

1. Maulvi Mushtaq Naqshbandi, Head of Jamia Siddiqia Madressa and
mosque, Mir Wah Gorchani city, Mirpurkas district, Sindh province

2 . Mr. Haq Nawaz, Official of Pakistan Rangers, Mirpurkhas district,
Sindh province

Date of incident: 23 August 2010

Place of incident: Bheemo Mal Megwar Para, Mir Wah Gorchani city,
Mirpurkas district, Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the attack on the
settlement of the Hindu community at Bheemo Mal Megwar Para, Mir Wah
Gorchani city, Mirpurkas district,Sindh province, by Muslim extremists
on the false charges of writing blasphemous slogans on and around the
walls of close to the mosque. They burned the houses of the Hindus and
looted their belongings. One Muslim man was killed during the firing
from the extremist elements.

It is shocking for me that on the early hours of August 23, at around
2am Maulvi Mushtaq Ahmed Naqshbandi, a leader of the local mosque and
seminary known as Jamia Siddiqia, announced through the loudspeakers
of the local mosque that there were some wall chalking in which
abusive words were written against the last prophet of Islam by the
Hindus. He provoked that the Muslim people should come out from houses
to teach the Hindu community a lesson. When some people asked about
the prove that Hindus have written abusive language, the Maulvi said
that a truck-driver informed him that when he was entering the area
near the mosque he saw a young man was standing with the wall and
after seeing driver he ran away towards the Hindu community, the Bhemo
Mal Megwar. The driver saw the wall chalking and quickly informed this
to Maulvi.

Maulvi also provoked the Muslim people to search the houses of the
Hindus and find the young man whose hand must be stained with black
ink. Around 50 persons under the leadership of Maulvi started
searching each houses during which women were dragged by the hair out
from the houses in their sleeping garments conditions, children were
kicked to force them to leave the houses. There were 60 houses and it
took three hours to search for the man suspected of the blasphemy but
no such person was found in the community. When the situation
deteriorated after the humiliation of Hindus and the threats to burn
their houses a police party under district police officer of
Mirpurkahs arrived and started controlling the mob of more than three
hundred Muslims. The angry mob started pelting the police with stones
shouting slogans to burn down the houses of Hindus. The mob then
burned three houses and looted the belongings of the community.

In the meantime the loudspeakers of the mosque were continuously used
to provoke the Muslims to attack the houses of Hindus of Bhemo Mal
Megwar who might have provided shelter to the person who had written
blasphemous writings on the walls around the mosque. The mob was
swelling and going out of control so the Rangers were called to help
the police in controlling the mob. As the Rangers came some miscreants
used fire arms during which one Ranger, Mr. Haq Nawaz, received a
bullet injury. The rangers and police used tear gas shell and baton
charged the mob. On the demand of the Muslim leaders seven Hindus were
arrested on the charges of Blasphemy. The arrested persons were Mr.
Faqeero, Mr. Kirchand, Mr. Mukesh, Mr. Kishan, Mr. Prem and Mr. Heroo
Ram Chand. One possible reason for their arrest is that they were the
only persons available at that time as the Hindus fled the area to
take shelter in other places. They also left all their belongings and
animals that have been without water and fodder since then.

One young Muslim man, Mohammad Imran, was killed by gunfire. In the
funeral prayers one particular person attended. He is Pir Aube Jan
Sarhandi, from Sanghar city, Sindh, and is known in the area along the
Indian border to convert Hindu women to Islam by abducting them. He
openly claims that he has converted 2000 Hindus to Islam.

I am appalled as to how a leader of a mosque can order the people to
search of each and every house for a person for writing the alleged
blasphemous slogans. How the law was given over to the hands of an
Imam of a mosque, is this the rule of law in the country? I am also
concerned with the misuse of loudspeakers from the mosques and how
they are frequently used against the religious minority groups.

According to the information I have received, it seems to me that the
local administration is at the mercy of the extremist Muslim groups
who use their influence against the religious minority groups in Sindh
province. Many Hindu communities have already left their settlements
because of the absence of rule of law in the interior of Sindh.

I urge you to take stern action against the persons responsible for
attacking on the century-old settlements of the Hindu community. I
also urge the authorities to stop the misuse of Blasphemy law without
properly following the law. The misuse of loudspeakers from the
mosques should be stopped. The government should help the displaced
Hindu community for their rehabilitation in their own settlements.
Maulvi Mushtaq should be arrested and prosecuted on the charges of
misusing loudspeakers from the mosque and taking search of the each
houses of the Hindu community illegally. The government should also
provide compensation to the family of Mr. Mohammad Imran who was
killed during the firing from the extremist elements.

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. Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani

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 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92
21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +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

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