Those who are born, have to die too. But how religious bias and prejudice complicates this natural process can be observed where minorities are struggling for their basic rights. I remembering meeting some Hindus in Lahore and one moment, in particular, I would never be able to forget. One of them was talking on phone with some tension on his face and the conversation was about a woman in his family who was still alive, but sick. He was concerned that if she dies then they do not have any cremation place. What he said made me wonder how difficult it is to survive being a minority. The country where you are scared of death not because of the phenomenon itself, but because what to do with the body later, does not belong to you. Then in 2006, a Hindu woman had to be buried in a Muslims’ graveyard due to the nonexistence of cremation ground. Does not it sound extremely insensitive that people from other religions wish to postpone their death in Pakistan?
On a positive note, the government has finally approved a cremation plot for both Hindus and Sikhs. It is a good sign and I hope the present government will be more considerate towards the demands and rights of minorities.
Below is the story:
The body of Radha, 62, who died in Lahore in June 2006, had to be kept in a mortuary for five days due to the absence of a cremation ground for Hindus in Pakistan. She was laid to rest in the Miani Sahib’s graveyard for the Muslims as a last resort. The case generated a hue and cry in Pakistan over the lack of cremation grounds, which would allow Hindus to conduct the last rites of their loved ones as per religion.
The Pakistani government has now approved a plan to set up a cremation ground, sprawling over 36 kanals of land, for the Hindus near the Babu Sabu Chowk, close to the Ravi river.The land has been divided into two — for Sikhs and Hindus.
“There are walls on all four sides. It has toilets, a water tank and a water pumping motor,” Munawar Chand, general secretary of the NGO Pakistan Balmik Sabha, said. “My mother was cremated there last year. We are thankful to the Pakistan government to have accepted our demands at last.”
Dr Ram Chand said the availability of a cremation ground for Hindus was essential. “Though they are a minority community here, cremation rituals are part of their religious beliefs. Our leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah had assured every person who chose to live in Pakistan that they shall be free to practice their religion,” he said.
Since Independence, Hindu welfare communities like the Pakistan Balmik Sabha and the Hindu Balmik Sudhar Sabha had begun efforts to raise funds for a cremation ground for the community in Lahore.They succeeded in 1976 when the Evacuee Property Trust allotted an area on Bund Road. But the property turned out to be disputed.