Hindus of Sindh- Forgotten community

“Ask Hindus  to immediately vacate Sind”  These were the first words of Gandhiji to the  group of Sindhi Congressmen led my then congress Stalwart  Mr. Choitram Gidwani who met Gandhiji  immediately after the fateful partition. Those left Sind obviously feel vindicated but those left or choose to stay back are facing the heat which is unlikely to die down any time soon.

Immediately after partition Sindhis in general found more solace in Gandhij then in Nehru whom they consider more like an politician than a real statesman. The then Sindhi Statesman from the congress  Mr. Choitram Gidwani was on record when we he say that “Nehru prefer to not to waste his tears on Sindhi Hindus”. Compared to Nehru, Gandhiji did took a lot of interest in the settlement of Hindu Sindhis. Gandhidham a city founded on the advice of Gandhiji is testimony of his attachment to Sindhi’s cause.

Although Sindhis did have own share of problems in India with the established Business communities viz. Marwaris & Gujarati Jains in Rajeshtan & Gujarat resp. but things are way far better in India then in Sindh. Notwithstanding such odds of Resettlement in India,  Sindhis do are considered among the well established communities in North India at least financially.

Post Partition Sindh had never been that rosy for Sindhis of  either community,  with Cities  in control of outsiders and resources in the hands of  big Brother Punjab. The condition of have been even more pathetic for Minorities.  The latest issue being that of Kidnapping and more importantly forceful conversation of Young Sindhi Girls to Islam supplemented by Marriage to Muslim men which too are obviously forceful.  In the past 15 days there have been three such incidents involving three Hindu Girls viz. Rinkle Kumari from Ghotki, in Mirpur Mathelo, Dr. Lata from Jacocabad and Asha from Larkana apart from killing of 4 Hindus including 3 Doctors  in Chak, Shikarpu a bustling town with an substantial population of Sindhi Hindus in the pre-Pakistan era.

Among the three cases Rinkle Kumari case hit the maxmimum headlines. As per the reports Rinkle Kumari 17 year old doughter of a Primary School employee Nandlal was kindnapped on 24th. of Last Month from her residence. As soon as it got confirmed that she had indeed  been kidnapped process for registering an  FIR was initiated which took 5 Hrs on the next Day. The reason for such delay is quite understandable by locals. Absence of FIR means to no court cases and forced conversion doesn’t need any further formalities. However in this case the FIR was indeed registered after 5 hrs long agitation by the local Hindu Sindhi panchyet.

The main accused in this case is Mian Mittho, Member of National Assembly elected from Ghotki on Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party ticket. Mithoo Miyan has another distinction being the Pir of Barchandi dargrgah – which has a notorious record of forceful abduction & conversion. The difference is this time he did it for his son. The background of the Barchandi Pir has an history of religious intolerance. Mian mitoo father who was  booked in 1930’s along with his two followers for the murder of one of the greatest saints of Hindu Sindhis – Bhagat Kunwar Ram Sahib which ultimately led to mass exodus of Hindu- Sindhis in the after math of Masjid-Manzilgarh Issue and in fact gave a strong foot hold to Muslim League in Sindh. The movement had yet another high profile casualty. It let to the downfall of Sindhi’s only secular Chief Minister – Allah Baksh Soomro  who too was ultimately killed within months presumably by Muslim League supporters.

As regards this particular case, Rinkle’s family alleged that they receive a call around 1 PM from the one of the Pir’s Son that Rinkle is with them in case they wish to meet her they are free to do but in Peer’s Residence. A negotiation did followed and ultimately it was decided to arrange an meeting in Hindu Panchyat office’s Offce but once Rinkle’e relative were at the Hall , they were informed that the Pirs have informed that the meeting is cancelled and any meeting should be held only in Peers residence or Dargah.

Any Sindhi  in sindh is all well aware of the fact that with how much freedom that an 17 year Old girl would be provided that too when she is under custody of Fanatic Pir. In the mean time Sindhi Hindu Panchyet along with Nationalist Party Jiye Sindh led by Riaz Chandio continued agitation which eventually let Rinkle Kumari to be presented Ghotki court.

 

For any individual who had covered such abduction-conversation-marriage cases this case would indeed would be  an stereotyped one. Almost in all the cases the sequence of events are as if they are pre- documented. Girls get kidnapped, presented to kangaroo courts (on the grounds that there had been agitation by the relatives), victims relatives are kept at a bay from the court proceedings, Victims statements as per rule 164 are always as per the dictates of the kidnappers. Outside the court building there are armed bandits or supporters of the kidnappers backed by Islamic orators delivering Islamic speeches. The entire background is created so that the Girls dare not to speak against her kidnappers.

In Rinkle Kumari case, the court drama was enacted to a near perfection. On the first day of her court appearance she did confessed in front of the Hon. Judge that she had been kidnapped and she wishes to return to her parents but before her statements could be officially recorded a drama was enacted by Noved Shah, Mian Mithu’s son who was presented as her Husband enacted a drama allegedly under the instruction of his father to be suddenly unconscious although he seems to be in no trouble before Rinkle statement. This opportunity was utilized by the Judge  presumably on the instructions of PPP  MPA (Member of Parliament) to defer the proceedings for as much as two days more importantly Rinkle was sent to police custody instead of Women Shelter as procedure. While the Rinkle layers cried foul, the interim order did give Mitto’s men an much need opportunity to re-plan.

Police Custody was obviously the preferable choice for Mian mitho had complete freedom in intimidating his victim and he did exactly just that. Reports confirm that she was forced to receive a call form a Ghotki Strongman who threaten her  of dire consequences in case she insists on her version of events. “Dire consequences” are indeed fearful words in this part of the world where Political Strongman’s localy termed “wadaras” have private prison or s and are obviously above any law of the land. They owe their existence since thousands of years and have grown stronger with democracy. Non of the political parties dare to act against them.

In the mean time news reaches that Pakistan President and co-Chairperson of PPP have taken strong exception of the incident and sought report Sind Government which happens to be a PPP Government. As a fallout of the news, Rinkle was immediately shifed to Ghotki from her prison at Sukkar that too at dead night around 2 AM by the same police who are till now only implementing only the court order.

On the very next day district court at Ghotki and its surrounds were turned into a fortress not so much by the local administration but MPA’s men with armed men in control of the court. Administration merely helped them. All roads leading to the court were blocked but such restrictions weren’t meant for Mian Mitoo’s men but for Hindus. Mian Mittoo’s men were indeed did their homework to perfection. Loudspeaker installed atop the vehicles for broadcasting provocative  Islamic sermons  and rustic men firing in the air. With the armed men in control, Rinkle was left alone to defend herself surrounded my wild men. Her statement was recorded in absence of her lawyers or relatives. There are confirmed reports which states that as Rinkle expressed  her desire to return to her parents home she was slapped my Mian Mithoo’s men  which compiled her to eventually fall in line. All this happened in front of the Judge who is supposed tobe custodian of the Law.  Her statements ever since had been in line with Mithoo diktat.

The court understandably passed the order of transferring Rinkle to her kidnappers as it happens in almost all such cases in that part of the world after recording her statements under rule 164. To the outside world it is an perfect justice with the girl being attracted to Islam accepts Islam and marries  a Muslim too. Marrage had always been an mandatory component as loss on girls virginity that too once it becomes public, had an psychological impact as her chances of getting  Hindus where they married diminishes considerable. It is evidently one of the reasons why most of the girls remain silent hoping for the best in such situations. Such sitations obviously are utilized by the kidnappers to silence girls.

Mitoo staged  the drama with photo finish in front of urdu Media who hailed it as an Love marriage although never had mullahs have accept the very concept of Love marriage. This despite the fact that recently in the same town an Hindu converted to Muslim and married a muslim just to arrested on the charges of kidnapping- no reports of Love affair getting published in Media nor the mullahs took pride in welcoming the hindu male to its ever increasing Islamic faith.

Forced conversation is nothing new. The history of Sindh are full of stories of such abduction-conversion-Solemnized ever since arabs become masters. So much so that Jhulelal owes its origin to Hindu- Muslim divide. Even during the British period which was relatively peaceful and prosperous which let the coming of the age,  Religious conversation continued although to a lesser extent. Among those neo-coverts were sheiks who preferred to increased their strength only by conversation. Such was their menace  in Northan Sindh there was a saying among the Hindu Sindhis – Sheikh putu shaitan jo, na hindu jo na musalman jo (Son of Seikh are just wicked, they are neither true hindu nor they are true to muslim faith) . In the post Pakistan years this menace had evidently increase as depleting strength of Hindus meant these conversation are opposed my far fewer Hindus than before 1947. What had added to the problems of the Hindus is in Pre partition days when they had an option of Migration to Karachi, Hyderbad where hindus are in larger number. In post Partition days Cities being in controlled of outsiders (Mohajirs – India Muslims, Pathan & Punjabis) Hindus have two options either slow the bitter pill or to  Migrate India.

Unlike India where Politicians & media take a more or less a balanced view in Pakistan including  Sindh for the majority see no wrong is such conversations, some take pride while others do not consider as an issue in first place. Rinkle conversation however have been different. Despite the fact that Rinkle family had to flee their hometown Ghotki and took shelter in a Gurudwara in Lahore protest never really died down. There had indeed been very few occasions when there had been protest by civil rights groups or more importantly Secular Muslims although their number remain practically very low with majority of Intellectuals & writers remaining silent spectators to the mayhems that had practically shaken Sindh’s Hindu minority.

Equally disappointing had been response of Local Sindhi Media. While in the initial stages the entire controversy was dubbed as an Love   affair of an Hindu girls eloping her Muslim lover. English media  did took a more balance view but the most disappointing have been the role of Local Sindhi Media who choose to remain silent and in a way preferred to ignore the news. Of late there had been a lot of hue and cry of  Sindhi Vernacular media being coming of the age and taking up the issue considered dear to Sindhi aspirations but when it comes to controversial  issue and more importantly issues related to mayhem  against the minorities media response have been disappointing. Sindhi Media had always choose to ignore and this case is no different. Almost the entire Sindhi media barring Awami Awaz kept themselves away from the entire controversy. It was however handful of the columnist viz. Asad Chandio (Awami  Awaz) Vengees (Daily Ibarat, Hyderabad, Sindh) and Zarar Pirzada (Daily Kawish) who did a remarkable job in keeping the tempo of the agitation alive but more importantly keeping the issue alive through Social Networking sites viz. Twitter & Facebook. Moreover a group of American Sindhis did a commendable job which led to US Congressmen Mr. Bred Sherman writing an hard warded later to President Zardari (at least by Indian Standards) to work on the release of Rinkle Kumari and be handed over to her parents.

It was out of the individual zeal of the media personalities as well  as  civil rights groups and Hindu panchyets that  Sindh High court took up the case of all the three Hindu girls who were kidnapped one after another viz Rinkle Kumari rom Mirpur  Mathelo, Dr. Lata from Jacocabad and Asha Kumari from Bhutto Stronghold Larkana . As per the hearing of Sindhi High Court Rinkle  Kumari & Dr. Lata have been sent to Women shelter hope to be presented to Pakistan Supreme Court on 26.th of March when these cases are slated to be taken up Chief Justice Pakistan Supreme Court whereas Asha Kumari still remains to be traced.

There had been couple of Media appearances of Rinkle Kumari staged by the infamous Mian Mitoo and a court appearance on his petition that her relatives and parents of Rinkle could harm the couple. Court however have refused to proceed the matter as the issue was expected to come up for Hearing in Sindh High Court on 12th. March 2012. In almost all of her media appearance she not only looked tensed but Mian mithoo men continued to issue written papers on what to say and she said according the script – viz she had great Love for Islam, of being troubled by her father and maternal uncle (who is incidentally spearheading the court cases ) being unkind to him although her previous assertion she loved  Naved Shah (Miyan Mitoo’s son)  being dropped merely as a part of the media strategy. All question or cross analysis of the Rinkle was however brushed aside by Mitoo Gang which ratifies what civil rights groups had always alleged that she had indeed been kidnapped. In fact an telephonic interview she answered only in yes or no.  Even during her appearance in Sindh High court she continued to be surrounded not only by Miyan Mitoo Women folk but that too presumable failed to satisfy Mian Mithoo as an ear piece was noticed in  Rinkle ears presumably  to convey his  diktats remotely which was however removed under the orders Hon. Judge Sindh High Court.

 

Sindh’s civil Socity and beleaguered Hindu cimmunity did reciaved a boost when veteran Sindhi Writer with strong secular credentials  Amar Jalil publically expressed dismay at the turn of events which reminds of mass migration when Majority of Sindhi Muslims remain mare spectators as Hindus were forced to vacate towns after towns. As a mark of solidarity he did grace the presence in Sindh High Court. Present with him were Marvi Memon who recently joined Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif Group) and who in the past had been close to Hindus and nationalist party leaders viz Ryaz Chandio & Shafi Burat. But apart form handful of personalities hardly any one from writer’s community or Public life  have raised any hue and cry on the issue which is being see as re-run of 1947- with the only difference being that this sindhi Muslims  or at lest a section of them are spearheading the ethnic cleansing of Sindhi Hindu community in Sindh.

 

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The case of all the three hindu girls is just a tip of iceberg in the context of attacks on the minority. According to the Pakistan Human Rights Commotions findings every month as many as 20 hindu girls are kindnapped and forced to marry muslims which translated to one every  day. There had been countless cases of Hindus being kidnapped and Killed. In most of the cases the attackers not only go scot-free but even issue public threats to Hindus before lunching the attacks. For instance killers of Hindus are yet to be apprehended although Media reported that Pakistan People’s Party, Shikarpur chief was responsible for the attack. He too issued threats before lunching attack.

Sindhi Dalits who bare the major brunt of the Mullah fine. As per estimates 80% of Hindu Sindhis in Sindh are dalits. Denied equal rights they not only continue to loose their daughters at an unprecedented rate but are denied even the basis fundamental rights. Studies show that the Mass migration that too place in 1947 hardly touched the dalits. But it is the anti-Hindu crusade after the partition which is taking a toll on the Dalits.

One of the major reasons of Hindus pathetic conditions being lack of Political will in taking up cause of Hindus. Non of the major political Political parties viz Pakistan Muslim League or Pakistan Peoples Party never really take them seriously and Jinnah’s separate electrocute system further reduced the Hindu community political influence. Sindhi Hindu community frequently complain of being merely selected than elected with reduces that power to put of their case in Islamic Sindh.  Even the so called Nationalist Parties show lukewarm response to the cause of Hindu Sindhis in Sindh. Even since the latest agitation began Hindus had to depend on handful of members of civil socity  and even lesser number of political personalities taking any interest plight of Hindus in general leave apart Dalits. Even Rasul Bux Palijo’s Awami Tahreek which has a sizable support in Hindus have been slow to response to the call for protest.

Despite Nehru-Liquat Ali Pact Migration of Hindus never really stopped. Termed locally in Sindh as “brain drain” almost every month there are reports of Hindus Migrating to India for an peaceful life. This migration is unlikely to die now till no more hindus are left who could migrate on their own and now with reports of atrocities hitting national & International media migration is likely to increase. Of-late there had been calls to put a stem to the migration but with justice & administrative taking clear side migration is likely to dominate media without any tangible change of ground situation.

 

For a Hindu Sindhi migrating from Sindh to India, life indeed seems to be like a paradise. With no fear of Kidnapping, killing and forced religious conversation, sindhi could eventually get on with their normal lives like Indians do this despite being stateless in India. Unfortunately the cause of Hindus and more importantly have never been taken up in right earnest moreover removed from international media glare Dalits in Sind live a sub-human lives. More that 80% of the dalits are extremely poor and to further aggravate the matter are natural calamity like floods & drought where regular instances of denial of basic relif are not uncommon. While the case Hindus in Punjab or North Pakistan  taken up in Indian Parliament,  Sindhi Hindu cause remains unrepresented. One of the reason had been understandably of Sindhis being under represented in India.

Ever Since the case of kidnappings of hindu girls have have hit media Headlines more and more such are coming to light. Although the fate of these girls  is to be decided my Chief Justice Iftikar Mohamad Choudhury on 26th. of March 2012, there are chance that  this case might follow the route of Manu Bhil case where despite Pakistan Supreme Court Notice nothing really happened. It is indeed the time for India and International to take a strong notice of the Sub-Human condition of Hindu community in Sindh before it gets too Late.  There is urgent need of evacuation of Hindus of Sindh failing which there are chances of Human catastrophe being unveiled as fighting a corrupt system and fighting people with corrupt mentality is an entirely different issue.

Today Hindus in Sindh look international community help and compassion failing which their survivability is under serious threat. Its time for the world to wake up in the interest of Human dignity.

Mentioned below are the links to the media websites on Rinkle Kumari and other issues
http://www.facebook.com/InjusticeWithHindusInSindhPakistan

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-Supreme-Court-directs-police-to-trace-three-Hindu-women/articleshow/12189273.cms

 

http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/hindu-girl-forced-conversion-spark-protest-in-pak_761761.html

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120306/rinkle-kumari-missing-hindu-woman-ordered-appear

http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/13609.html

http://networkedblogs.com/uWlTg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-17272943

 

 

 

 

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