No Safe Haven for Pakistani Hindus

The Displaced and Disheartened
Picture From: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/photo/15438589.cms

The year of 1947 was one of the major defining moments of Indian and Pakistani history. Although it has been 65 years since the partitioning, terror still haunts the minority Pakistani Hindus daily. In the May Issue of ‘India Today’, Bhavna Vij-Aurora shed light onto the devastating impact caused to Pakistani Hindu women who were ‘marked’, abducted, raped and then forcibly converted to Islam in an act gain back at least some of their respectability while in the marriage. One such case that struck the media was that of Rinkle Kumari.

On the 26th of March, Rinkle dared to do the impossible. After her abduction by a man by the name of Naveed Shah, she made a bold plea for help to the highest court in Pakistan. However, unsurprisingly, Pakistani political affiliation influenced the suppression to her demand for closure. The suffrage of the Pakistani women within the Hindu minority population triggered the mass migration to places such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and even India.

The Province of Sindh in Pakistan is the home to 90% of Hindus. It was mentioned in the article, ‘No Country for Pakistani Hindus,’ ‘that an average of 25 girls each month meet Rinkle’s fate in Sindh alone’. These women and their families are rendered helpless and made to shift irrespective of their financial instabilities. These people have neither the numbers nor the political clout to provide them with even the slightest assurance of their safety which in itself is a humanitarian right displaced. According to the Delhi Foreign Region Registration also known as the FRRO, till mid-2011- an average of eight to ten families migrated per month. However, the stats have rapidly increased since the past twelve months to 400 families attempting to settle in India alone. Post-1947, Hindus accounted for 15% of the Pakistani population, whereas now there has been a drastic decline to a mere 2% in a population of 170 million due to the killings, mass migration and forced conversion.

In an age where Humanitarian Rights are put under the limelight of every global and economic issue, Pakistani and Indian politicians don’t cease to play the blame game with their bait. The number of Pakistani Hindus that flee from Pakistan come to India just to find themselves in another bottomless pit of despair. After the rape of his 14-year-old sister, 31-year-old Pujari Lal came to Khanna in Punjab where he is still being denied citizenship, despite marrying a local resident. “It has been 13 years but I still have not become a citizen of India. My papers have come back a dozen times with some objection or the other. I have already spent Rs 20,000 in the process and have run out of money” replies Mr Lal. Another similar case is that of Jamuna Devi, migrating from Bahawalpur in Sindh she and her family settled on the outskirts of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The settlement in which they lived in had absolutely no electricity or sources of clean water that practically formed a situation that was humanly impossible to survive in irrespective of which community lives there. The lack of hygiene influences the high rate of illnesses within the region. Jamuna Devi mentions, “There are mosquitoes and insects all over. When our children fall ill, the Government hospitals refuse to give us medicines, saying we are Pakistanis.”

 While there are some organisations that provide a temporary home for Pakistani Hindus, the lack of funds provided by the government causes a deliberate repetition of the poverty cycle. Young girls such as 3-year-old Rani who lives in Majnu Ka Tilla Refugee camp will be yet another victim of the government’s inadequate decision making. Limited education and exposure to necessary resources will drag her back in to facilitate the poverty cycle in India along with the other children who deserve the prospect to secure a future of opportunities and not a life of endless pleading.

The Indian betrayal has incarcerated Pakistani Hindus for no fault of their own. Even after several years of fleeing, people like Om Lal Pishori who fled Pakistan along with six other families still ‘remain foreigners in the land where they sought salvation.’ The only reason behind no political assistance to Pakistani Hindu Refugees is that they don’t account for the vote bank Indian politicians desperately desire to stay in power. Avinash Rai Khanna, Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab mentions this himself, ‘ The suffering of the Pakistani Hindu families has not become a political issue in this country because it does not win elections. Ironically, the problem of a section of Indian’s majority community is nobody’s problem.’

The European Organisation for Pakistani Minorities also known as the EOPM recently reported that soldiers within the Pakistani Army abducted minority women to use as sex slaves. Even the Pakistani’s National Human Rights Commission in 2011 confessed that the minority populous weren’t safe in Pakistan. And to top it off the Pakistani police don’t recognise these cruelties and therefore let their offenders off the hook. MP Avinash Rai Khanna of the BJP party is one of the few politicians that raise questions about the plight of those persecuted. In response to the questions raised, E. Ahamed the Minister of State mentioned on the 22nd March, “The Government has taken up the matter with the government of Pakistan it has stated that it looked after the welfare of all its citizens, particularly the minority community.” ‘India Today’ writer, Bhavna Vij-Aurora states in her article that, “a secular India’s MEA accepts Pakistan’s claims at face value. They claim that since India does not endorse any religion, it cannot be seen as speaking for Hindu’s in Pakistan.” So the question that arises from this is that does India really have to endorse a religion in order to provide any sort of humanitarian assistance to its public?

With politics and financial instability dictating their lives, Pakistani Hindus find it close to impossible to envisage a ‘safe’ environment for themselves and their families, presently. This cover story is yet another hard-hitting fact of reality. Both India and Pakistan are not to blame; rather it is the incompetence of their political parties that fail to provide swift action, leaving these communities playing piggy-in-the-middle, for possibly the rest of their lives.

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