India has let Hindus down
The suffering of the Pakistani refugees isn’t enough of an emotive issue to help politicians win elections
Six and a half decades after it was created as an independent nation, Pakistan continues to keep its Hindu citizens on the very margins of its society. In this modern age where human values and human rights are concerns that transcend national boundaries and humanitarian missions to rescue little boys from bore-wells go live on TV and viral on the Internet, Pakistan taunts the world by denying Hindus and other minorities the right to live with dignity, peace and equality.
On the other side of the frontier created in 1947, neither life nor property of Hindus is safe. Their daughters are routinely abducted and raped. They are forced to convert and marry local Muslims against their will. Just this March, even the Supreme Court of Pakistan failed to rescue two Hindu teenage girls, leaving them instead to their unfortunate and terrible fate. Rinkle Kumari was kidnapped from Mirpur and Asha Kumari was taken from Jacobabad but the honourable judges chose not to intervene. The European Organisation for Pakistani Minorities ( EOPM), an NGO, has even castigated the Pakistan Army for persecuting minority communities. A recent
EOPM report charges that soldiers take away minority women and keep them as sex slaves. Even Pakistan’s National Human Rights Commission, in 2011, admitted that minority communities are “not safe” in Pakistan. The police do not acknowledge these atrocities and the culprits know they will go scot-free. On August 10, 2010, four Hindus—mohabbat Mall, Paro Mall, Biro Mall and Pyara Mall—were kidnapped by a mob from police custody in Mirpur Khas, Sindh. No action was taken. Left without any option, these people look to India for deliverance. Pakistan Hindu Sewa, a social organisation trying to help Hindus in Pakistan, estimates that more than 400 Hindu families have fled the country over the past 10 months, most of them to India. But sadly, not once has India formally raised the issue with the Pakistan government.
Scores of Hindu families from Pakistan have been camping in India for years, even decades. They have been pleading to be granted citizenship but India’s highly stringent regulations have made it impossible for them to be assimilated. The example of Om Lal Pishori who fled Pakistan along with six other families, 35 people in all, on September 20, 1999, and settled in Khanna, Punjab, stares us in our faces. Thirteen years on, people like him remain foreigners in the land where they had sought salvation.
The Khanna families’ fate is perhaps only a little better than the 3,500 Hindu families who migrated to Jammu in 1947 but have still not been accepted as Indians. They now number more than 100,000 families.
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 India’s majority community is nobody’s problem.
OM LAL PISHORI