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MCP condemns attack on a Sindhi journalist


LAHORE, 13 Oct: The Media Commission expressed shock at the harassment of Mahesh Kumar and attack on his car. Kumar, chief editor of Daily Sindh Hyderabad and a member of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Hyderabad chapter, went to the press club at night where some unidentified people opened fire on his car. Later, he was threatened on phone of dire consequences.

Such harassment to an old friend of SAFMA, who belongs to a minority group, is highly condemnable, said I. A Rehman, president of MCP. The obvious rise in attacks on the journalist is a worrying sign and gives more strength to impunity. We call upon Karachi Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to investigate this matter and reasons behind the harassment of journalists

On a positive note, the MCP welcomes the unconditional release of Rehmatullah Dawar after 61-day captivity.

 

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Discussion on Attacks on journalists and Media Freedom


Participants:  Imtiaz Alam, Khaled Ahmed, and Sadaf Arshad

 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Media

 

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Is this kidnapping for ransom?


The recent kidnapping of a Hindu spiritual leader, Lakki Chand Garji, who happens to be the ‘maharaja’ of the Kali Mata Mandir’  has shocked many. It was first solely read as an attempt to target the Hindus here in Pakistan, and for obvious reasons including the conditions under which they live in this country. Pakistan is not the best place for minorities to live and the strong wave of extremism has given this belief another boost. But considering Balochistan complex situation, I would rather like to keep other options in mind too, not just a simple attack on Hindus. Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Chief Minister of Balochistan, has already pointed out that the kidnapping is for ransom and that is the option we cannot rule out.

Minorities could be an easy and strong target at the same time for ransom and especially when it is about the life of their spiritual leader. The kidnappers always get their message through easily when it is someone from minorities because of the concerns of minorities and human rights groups . The protests triggered by the kidnapping has attracted the CM attention who has directed the law enforcing agencies to ensure his safe release.

Kidnapping-for-ransom incidents have been on the rise in Balochistan except target killing. The kidnappers manage to whisk away in broad daylight and sometimes and eventually the families of victims  have to pay huge amounts to secure their release. The law enforcing agencies could not succeed in ensuring the release of those kidnapped in at least two cases that I have known. A renowned businessman Ahmed Ali Hazara was abducted from Gordath Singh Road in February 2009,  who was released after his family paid huge amount. Similarly, a senior advocate of Balochistan High Court Iftikharul Haq was abducted close to his house at Doctor Bano Road in March 2009, but despite a suo moto notice and protests by lawyers, his family ended up paying a handsome amount to his kidnappers. The police, unfortunately, could not be of any good in these cases.

If Lakki Chand Garji’s case, it may happen again…

Below is the story:

Islamabad, Dec 23 (IANS) A leading Hindu spiritual leader of Pakistan was kidnapped at gunpoint in Balochistan province while he was on his way to officiate a wedding.

Eightytwo-year-old Lakki Chand Garji, who is the `maharaja’ of the Kali Mata Mandir in Kalat town, is considered to be one of Pakistan’s most revered Hindu spiritual leaders. He was kidnapped Tuesday night, the Express Tribune reported Thursday.

As the news of his abduction spread, hundreds of Hindu community members blocked the key highway that links Karachi and Quetta, bringing traffic to a halt for several hours.

Hindus demanded that the government secure the immediate release of their spiritual leader. Garji along with five people was travelling from Kalat town to Khuzdar to attend a marriage ceremony.

The media report said that he was intercepted by armed men who kidnapped him. The people accompanying him were later released. ‘A vehicle was chasing us and intercepted us at a deserted place near Surab, some hundred kilometers away from Kalat,’ said Babo Lal, who was one of the five men released by kidnappers.

‘The kidnappers tied our hands from behind with rope and blind folded us, thus I do not know where they were heading,’ Lal was quoted as saying.

Lakki Chand Garji has been the ‘maharaja at Kali Mata Mandir for the past 60 years and he has command on several languages including Balochi, Hindi, Sindhi, Persian and Brahavi, his devotees said.

Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Balochistan province chief minister, told the media that he believed it was an incident of kidnapping for ransom and did not have religious overtones. Raisani directed law enforcement agencies to secure the release of the Hindu community leader at the earliest.

He observed that kidnapping cases had risen in certain areas of the province. The protests by the Hindu community members took place in Khuzdar, Quetta, Kalat and Naushki. Hindu community elders said that that they are being targeted by criminals.

Community leaders Nand Lal, Raj Kumar and Chander Kumar said the government has failed to protect the life and property of the people, particularly those belonging to the minority community.

The Hindu Panchayat Quetta took out a rally from the Arya Samaj Mandir in Quetta and went through Jinnah Road, Masjid Road, Shahra-e-Iqbal and Mannan Chowk of the Baloch capital city.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2010 in Hindus

 

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Being a Hindu in Pakistan


by Marvi Memon, Express Tribune

It’s not easy these days being a Hindu in Pakistan. The number of cases of members of the Hindu community being kidnapped for ransom is on the rise, both in Sindh and in Balochistan. While recently attending a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee for Law and Justice, I realised that a stringent law was already in place under which a person convicted of this offence could be sentenced to life in prison or even death. As usual, the discussion revolved around the fact that while we had good laws, they were not being implemented.

Personally, I am against capital punishment — and the logic is quite straightforward: since we don’t give life, we have no right to take it away. And hence life imprisonment is acceptable but not capital punishment. However, the rise in cases of kidnapping, often of children, has altered this view. Those who kidnap people for ransom need to be dealt with a heavy hand, more so because in Pakistan where we hardly ever see anyone punished for this crime. In August, before the floods had hit Sindh, I visited a Hindu Sindhi family in Kashmore whose six-year-old had been kidnapped. The state of the mother was enough to convince me to press for severe punishment as a deterrent to stop this kind of crime.

I was told that Hindus were being targeted because, by and large, they lacked political clout and made for easier targets. Furthermore, those involved in kidnapping for ransom often had connections to powerful people, and this explained why, in most instances, the kidnappers were never caught.

The tragedy is that as a result of these kidnappings, many Hindu families have migrated to India. After all, it is better to live in another country than in perpetual fear. This is the biggest failure of the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan — that its minorities don’t feel safe on their own soil.

Clearly, the government’s package, called ‘Aghaz-e-Huqooq Balochistan’ has not achieved much in that province. For instance, in 2009 a 13-year-old was kidnapped and released after a ransom of Rs1.8 million was paid. Another Hindu was kidnapped from the busy Sariab road and released after a ransom of Rs4.2 million was paid. A Hindu man was kidnapped and released after his family paid Rs1.5 million. A Hindu shopkeeper was asked to pay Rs6million at which point he migrated to India — this happened in August of this year. And this is just a partial list.

The Hindu community is peaceful — so what is its biggest sin? It is a minority in a land where there is no rule of law. All that is needed is the political will to go after those involved in these kidnappings — the incidents will stop and our Hindu compatriots will stop fleeing to India.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Christians

 

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Hindu Girl Abducted and Forcibly Converted to Islam


Hard to believe, but facts prove that some sections of Pakistani society are going insane in their pursuit of “one religion syndrome”. The word “force” logically does not fit in any lingo related to any religion where all preach humanity, freedom and respect for each other. But some orthodox forces seem capable of changing this rhetoric and tradition while kidnapping people and forcing them to convert to Islam. If we want Islam to become the most dominant religion and rule the world even then this approach is irrational and unaccepted.

Through such gestures, we will further push people away from us rather bringing them closer. Unfortunately, it hurts a religion the most where such forces voluntarily represent it and mostly in a bad way. Same is happening to Islam which is at the mercy of these orthodox who have even exploited law to hide behind its shield. The victim families when approach police often face disappointment and threats and no justice in the end. Same happened in the story pasted below, but the question is  how far we can go in expressing our helpless attitude in front of every injustice. Let’s start raising our voices for things which are just. Let’s defeat these religious fanatics. Let’s join hands in making this country for Pakistanis not for Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Sikhs.

Below is the story:

Karachi, Pakistan (CHAKRA) —In the town of Lyari in Pakistan, a 13-year-old Dalit girl, Poonam, has been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.

According to Poonam’s uncle Bhanwroo she went missing last Wednesday and was not seen until neighbours spotted her at a Madrassa in the town and informed her parents.

When her parents went to the Madrassa to bring her back, they said that she seemed very scared and was under the influence of the imams there.  She reportedly stated that they would not let her go and that she was ready to live at the Madrassa as a Muslim.

When the family turned to police for help, they immediately refused and stated it was not a big enough case to be officially registered. Poonam’s parents were told by the police that there was no point in lodging a complaint or report because as soon as the court proceedings would take place the report would become null and be cancelled.

Poonam’s parents are left hopeless and have no where or means to turn to by which they can get their beloved daughter back.  And their crime for such a punishment was nothing.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2010 in Hindus

 

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Two boys kidnapped within a week, Hindus protest


Express Tribune, 17 Sep

LARKANA: After two boys were kidnapped in two separate incidents within one week in Kashmore, parents have started fearing for the safety of their children who have become an easy target for abductors.

The more recent of the two incidents was the abduction of three-year-old Mahar Pathan, who went missing on September 14 while he was playing with other children near a school in the area.

As news of the incident spread, shops were closed as residents of the area took to the streets in protest.

Meanwhile, six-year-old Dheeraj Kumar’s family has been praying for his safe return since the day he was kidnapped from Kandhkot. Dheeraj went missing on Saturday, September 11, after which his kidnappers called his father, Tashpal Das, for ransom.

“I am a primary school teacher so how can I afford to pay Rs1 million?” the frantic father told The Express Tribune, adding that his wife has been unconscious since the incident took place.

Talking to The Express Tribune, social activist Akbar Pathan said that kidnappers have taken to a new trend – that of kidnapping children, especially boys, for ransom.

“The role of the police seems bleak,” said Pathan, who claimed that the kidnappers were in fact being facilitated by the police as the latter encouraged the payment of ransom.

DPO Kashmore Abdul Salam Shaikh said these allegations were “baseless”, claiming that the police have successfully freed many kidnapped people without having to resort to paying ransom.

In Dheeraj’s case, the police tried to find the kidnappers but they had taken the boy to the Balochistan border, said Shaikh. “We know who is involved in Dheeraj’s kidnapping and hopefully the boy will be found very soon,” he added.

However, people belonging to the Hindu community, along with other residents of Kandhkot, took to the streets in protest when they heard the news of Dheeraj’s kidnapping.

They alleged that despite assurances of finding the six-year-old in two days, the police had been unable to trace the kidnappers.

“The police and other law-enforcement agencies have failed to protect minorities in Pakistan.  Three children from our community have been kidnapped in the last two months. We have paid ransom for the freedom of one child, while two are still being held hostage,” said Pakistan Hindu Council vice-president Mahesh Kumar.

Hindus who were earlier settled in Jacobabad, Kashmore and Kandhkot have now been forced to move to Karachi, said Kumar, who claimed that many flood survivors had taken to robbing the houses that belonged to Hindus.

MPA Pitambar Sewani, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party and represents the minorities, said that he will raise the issue at the assembly.

“We are the sons of this soil, but such incidents have created fear among the people of our community,” said Sewani. “We have asked the administration of various districts to provide protection to the minorities, but our requests have been ignored,” he added.

DIG Larkana Din Mohammed Baloch said that the issue of kidnapping was very serious, adding that the law enforcers are trying to evolve a strategy on how to prevent such incidents from taking place in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Hindus

 

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