Pakistani Hindu Refugees: Responsibility lies with the Congress government – Ravi Shankar Ettath

Ravi Shankar Etteth“The Congress government, which encourages the illegal migration of Bangladeshis in Assam and elsewhere, refuses to even recognise Pakistani Hindus as refugees. In its reply to activist S. C. Agarwal’s RTI query on November 1, 2011, on the status of these refugees, the external affairs ministry claimed it was Pakistan’s ‘internal matter.'” – Ravi Shankar Ettath

All minorities are terrorized in PakistanIfrah Siddique is a student of St. Anthony School in Lahore, Pakistan. At the Youth Talent Festival 2012, she delivered an impassioned speech on the subject of the Rights of Minorities in Pakistan. An excerpt. “The fact is that there are no minority rights in Pakistan. From Shantinagar to Gojra, the history of this land is full of the murders of the minorities at the heads of the self-proclaimed righteous guardians of religious boundaries. In a country where sectarian terrorism consumed thousands of lives and minorities have been forced to live in fear, Article 20 is nothing but hollow words.” Article 20 of the Pakistan Constitution promises that ‘(a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions’.

Pakistani Hindus are in the eye of a storm; they were initially refused permission to visit India over fears that they may not return home. According to Delhi’s Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), until mid-2011, around 10 families would migrate to India in a month. In 2012, the figure is 400.

Shamshan Ghat TempleDo you blame them? At the time of Partition, Hindus comprised 26 per cent of the population—including in Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan. Now they are barely 2 per cent. Our secularists, who got bad throats crying over the Babri Masjid demolition, do not mention that out of about 400 temples in Pakistan in 1947, only 26 exist. Even the Hindu dead have been denied cremation in Pakistan. In early 2011, Meher Chand arrived on the Samjhauta Express carrying 135 plastic jars containing the ashes of Hindus who had died in Pakistan, some as far back as in the 1950s, and were kept in Hindu Cremation Ground, Karachi. They found peace finally, immersed in the sacred waters of the Ganges.

The living fare no better. The Asian Human Rights Commission records that around 1,100 Hindu girls are kidnapped and forcibly converted every year while the number is 700 for Christian girls. The well-known madrasa, Dargah Alia Qadria Bharchundi Sharif of Sindh, has openly declared its goal of converting 2,000 Hindu girls to Islam every year. This week, 14-year-old Manisha Kumari was kidnapped in Sindh. Chand’s 16-year-old daughter was abducted, and is missing till now. Rinkle Kumari from Sindh was forcibly converted and married off to a Muslim; after initial rebellion, and finding no justice from the Pakistan Supreme Court, she was forced to accept her situation on fear of death. Asha Kumari disappeared from a beauty parlour and re-appeared before the Pakistan Supreme Court with her new husband, Bashir Lashari, in tow. Even children like five-year-old Gajri are kidnapped and held in madarsas and married off to local Pakistani Muslims. President Zardari’s sister and MP Azra Fazal Pechuho told Pakistani Parliament that a growing number of Hindu girls are being kidnapped and held captive in madrasas, where they are forcibly converted. She and other MPs have called for legislation to ban the practice.

Ironically, the Congress government, which encourages the illegal migration of Bangladeshis in Assam and elsewhere, refuses to even recognise Pakistani Hindus as refugees. In its reply to activist S.C. Agarwal’s RTI query on November 1, 2011, on the status of these refugees, the external affairs ministry claimed it was Pakistan’s “internal matter”.

Rinckle Kumari now called FaryalThe burden of proof sits easily on the Congress government’s shoulders. Leaders like Manmohan Singh, whose last hurrah would be solving lofty issues like Siachen, may want to look down from their pedestals and see the plight of the persecuted—Pakistani and Kashmiri—and treat it as India’s internal matter. The white section of the Pakistani flag stands for the country’s non-Muslims and minorities. India should act swiftly before the hypocrisy of white disappears altogether. – The New Indian Express, Chennai, 12 August 2012

»  Ravi Shankar Etteth is a cartoonist and a graphic artist, deputy editor of  India Today and has written a novel, The Tiger By The River(Penguin). Ravi Shankar can be contacted at Ravi@newindianexpress.com

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4 Responses

  1. how we can provide justices to them , how we can help them, I cries when I see these things .

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  2. Congress MP Mani Shankar Iyer said on national television that India is not a Hindu country ! He pompously allowed that it is a Hindu majority country. The occasion for his outpourings was a program on NDTV, ‘ Should India take a stand on minorities in Pakistan?’ (Aug. 13, 2012). The question being discusssed was related to the seeking of asylum in India by Hindus fleeing Pakistan.

    Mr. Iyer, even the barbarian invaders spoke of Hindustan when they referred to India. And well, the Persians called the river Sindhu, the river Hindu owing to a change in pronunciation. These references happened Mr. Iyer because the word Sindhu occurred in the oldest of our Hindu scriptures (assuming that you consider yourself a Hindu which you well may not). Be that as it may, the majority of the 800 million plus Hindus of India (and those in the diaspora) consider that the land south of the Himalaya and extending to Kanyakumari, and from east to west, is Hindu, because of the civilisational ethos of the country, which goes back several thousand years and certainly long before that of the two proselytising minorites, Islam and Christianity.

    Where did this Congressman go wrong? In the NDTV program it became clear that he was using the occasion to make a case for keeping the millions of illegal migrants from Bangla Desh in Assam, so that the vote bank of the Congress will be safe. At the same time he managed to take a swipe at his sworn enemies (as he sees them!) the BJP, by accusing them of communalising the issue of both the Hindus of Pakistan and the illegal Muslim migrants from Banglas Desh. His ploy did not work for the simple reason that Dr. Chandran Mitra (editor of The Pioneer) pointed out that even the Assam Chief Minister had made a distinction betweeen refugees and illegal migrants!

    That being taken care of Mr. Iyer sulked quietly, waiting for the next opportunity to hit two birds with one stone. Unfortunately for him that opportunity did not come his way.

    The question needs to be asked by Hindus. Where did this Congressman go wrong? Even his erstwhile boss, the late Jawaharlal Nehru did not go as far as saying that India is not a Hindu country, even though he did not seem to be concerned that it was and managed to mess up many aspects of decision making whether of foreign policy or interference with Hindu religious practice. And certainly, Mani Shankar Iyer’s current boss cannot be blamed since she seems to be neither fish fowl nor red herring, being a Catholic (not an Indian Catholic) but one who came from afar and whose educational and civilisational background did not prepare her for Hindu India (except for its famed wealth, especially it is reported, its antiquities!).

    What is it in the educational training of Congressmen such as Mani Shankar Iyer? For political reasons he appears to be willing to say that his own grandmother is not Hindu !

    Whither Congress ? Whither?

    (The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).

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  3. This govt for the seculars,by the seculars and with the seculars won’t do anything for these hapless families.
    What about VHP? This is time for VHP to come to the rescue of these families and also declare that doors of HINDUSTHAN are open for ALL Hindus from ALL lands where they feel persecuted.As good Hindus we all should know that Hindus from other countries have no where else to go.Christians can go to almost all the countries.Muslims can go to 100 + countries, Jews can go to Israel.Where will Hindus go?

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  4. Pakistani Hindus enter India at Attari Road

    We are harassed in Pakistan, many keen to migrate to India: Pakistani Hindu family – Yudhvir Rana – 13 August 2012

    ATTARI: Amidst confusion over the travel plans of 223 Pakistani Hindus who arrived in India in two batches on Friday and Saturday following reports of their persecution, another Hindu family – husband, wife and four children from Sibi district in Balochistan (Pakistan) said goodbye to their friends, relatives and their country with the intent to settle in India.

    The family which arrived at the Attari International Railway Station on board Samjhauta Express on Monday, was quite vocal on their plans.

    “Pakistan se gila nahin, wahan kae bashindo se gila hai” (We have no complaint from Pakistan but its people) said Mukesh Kumar while talking to TOI .

    A grocery shop owner in Sibi, Mukesh said Pakistani immigration officials were so skeptical of the visit of Pakistani Hindus to India that before letting them board Samjhauta Express at Wagah on Monday, they were made to give a written undertaking that they were not harassed in Pakistan and would return.

    An emotional Mukesh said he had sold his house and other belongings before leaving Pakistan. “I know my relatives are there and they could be harassed but I had to save my and the life of my family, they might also leave Pakistan one day,” he said adding that hundreds of Hindu families were keen to migrate to India.

    He said he would now go to Indore to seek help from his cousin who lived there.

    Mukesh spoke of the terror in Balochistan where gun-wielding motorcyclists often came to their shops and demanded huge money and went to houses to harass Hindu ladies and took away their ornaments.

    Following reports of insecurity among Hindus and their possible mass exodus from Sindh and Balochistan, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had constituted a three-member committee comprising of senator Hari Ram, member National Assembly Lal Chand and law minister Maula Baksh Chandio to express solidarity with Hindus on behalf of his government and instill a sense of security among them.

    Meanwhile, eight-year-old Pranjal Pari, daughter of Mukesh doesn’t know that the family has left Pakistan forever. But there was pain in her voice when she said “In school I never played with other (Muslim) girls and remained aloof .”

    “Mujhae dar lagta hai , kabhi kuch no kuch hota rehata hai” (I am scared , something keeps on happening) she said.

    Echoing her thought was brother Shwet Ahuja who said it was difficult to mix with other boys of his age as they were discriminated.

    Mukesh’s wife Sumen Devi said they had decided to move India for good after one of their relatives Ravi Kumar was kidnapped by unidentified miscreants and when the family failed to meet their demand of ransom they sent back his dead body after two and half months.

    “Mujhe nahi jana wapis ab, bahut ho gaya” (I wouldn’t go back, it is enough,” she said while wiping her tears.

    Mukesh said police did register their cases but didn’t do anything to trace the culprits.

    Suhani, another Hindu girl who arrived in India remarked sarcastically, “We are very secure as we don’t go out of the home and if there is need to move out we wear burqa”. She, however, said she had not arrived here to settle but for meeting relatives.

    Vashdev , another Hindu from Pakistan said that he had heard of some incidents but didn’t know where.

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