Afghanistan, Pakistan & Bangladesh Documents

Attacks on Hindus in Pakistan between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2004

In October, Ameer Jalaal reported in The Dawn that in the Sindh province of Pakistan,

“kidnapping for ransom is a common phenomenon in which unseen hands play a more

damaging role than the seen ones.”36

Of importance to Hindu human rights, Jalaal further reported:

In most of the stories the abducted person happens to be a Hindu. Not as a

rule, but generally the abducted Hindu belongs either to Kandhakot,

Kashmore, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, or to Sukkar and Ghotki. The reporters,

along with photographers, intrude into the house of the victim, and capture

appalling pictures of the wailing mother, wife, children, and sisters of the

victim. The photographs promptly appear on the front page of the

newspapers along with the file photo of the kidnapped person. The editors

provide all sorts of assistance to the reporters and the photographers in

following the story. Grisly reporting guarantees increase in the circulation

of the newspaper…. The police, as usual, refuse to register the case; thus

they provide ample opportunity to the kidnappers to get away as far as

possible. [Kidnapping] is a well-established multimillion industry in the

interior of Sindh. The industry efficiently operates unhindered through a

cleverly designed system of its own. The criminals are called Dharels.

They do not operate on their own. They are harboured and protected by

the influential and well-connected persons. They are called the

Patharedars. In most instances they rub shoulders with the people in the

corridors of power. People who really matter in Pakistan happen to be

their constant guests. They relish their luxurious hospitality and enjoy the

thrills of guided hunting expeditions in the interior of Sindh.

In November 2004, a report entitled “Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld a ban on

serving food at wedding receptions held in public places”37 manifested the state of

Hindu-Muslim relations in Pakistan. In the report, the Pakistan Supreme Court held that

serving food and extravagant displays of wealth was un-Islamic.

The Supreme Court averred that the most popular customs were all of Hindu origin and

had nothing to do with the Islamic concept of marriage (emphasis ours). This ruling

confirmed the “foreign” or “alien” status of Hindus in Pakistan and excludes their

heritage as an essential part of the societal mosaic.

Another report in November entitled “Another Hindu girl kidnapped in Pakistan”38 said

that a “Hindu teenaged girl was kidnapped in Pakistan in the second such incident in a

month.” Sapna Kumari, a Class X student, was kidnapped in October 2004 in

Balochistan and had not been traced. “A number of civil society groups and NGOs have

condemned the kidnapping of Sapna Kumari and demanded that the government find the

victim at the earliest,” the newspaper said. Pakistan’s parliament was informed in

October that a 14-year-old Hindu girl named Kaiko Mai was being held in illegal

detention and that her life could be in danger. Though not confirmed, these reports

implicate a pattern of kidnappings of Hindu young women in areas outside of urban

zones of Pakistan.

In a BBC report titled “Life as a modern slave in Pakistan,”39 it was said that nearly two

million people in the southern Pakistan province of Sindh are tied to their employers by

“bonded labor” — 12 years after Pakistan outlawed the practice. Under this practice,

landlords tie their employees to them by debt. The report stated that often the debt

amounts to thousands of rupees, much more than the workers actually borrowed, and that

the workers are held as slaves against their will. Many of these workers are Hindu, the

report noted.

“I was kidnapped with several others,” a woman named Shanti told BBC World Service’s

Slavery Today program. “I was confined alone in a small room. Then the landlord who

kidnapped us, raped me.” Shanti said that she was kidnapped by the same landlords for

whom her family had worked. She also said she was two months pregnant when

kidnapped. “The zamindar (landlord) said when he kidnapped me that if he kept me, then

my relatives and other people would come back to his land,” she said. “Then he raped

me, saying that because my family wasn’t working his land anymore, he had a right to

rape me.”

Another Hindu woman, Laxmi, described similar treatment by her landlord: “We were

severely beaten and worked very hard by our landlord,” she said. “He had no feeling for

human beings. He beat us when we wanted to go somewhere, or even when we asked

him for food.” She said the landlord had told her she and her husband owed 100,000

rupees (around $1,700) each. “Whenever we asked him for money, he used to beat us in

reply,” she said. “We used to think that the entire life of our children would pass, and

this debt would still not be paid,” she added.

Laxmi managed to escape her bondage and lives with a group of other former bonded

laborers. Although they live in poverty, Laxmi said that at least she is free. “We

definitely still feel hunger, but at least here we don’t have any torture,” she said.

“Previously we were beaten day and night.”

India’s State of Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmir was a Hindu country until 1339; the Muslim period stretched from about 1561

to 1819, when the Sikhs gained control over the region. Sikh rule spanned from 1819 to

1846. The Dogra (Hindu) kings ruled from 1846 to 1947. Modern Kashmir has been

claimed by both Pakistan and India, and after their partition in 1947, Kashmir, which was

then ruled by the Dogra king Hari Singh, joined the Indian Union as Pakistan’s regular

forces and militias crossed the border and sought to seize the kingdom.

According to the Kargil Review Committee Report, the former princely State of Jammu

& Kashmir has a total area of 85,807 sq. miles40. Of this, 30,160 sq. miles is under the

occupation of Pakistan, of which 2,000 sq. miles in the Shaksgam Valley was ceded by

Pakistan to China in 1963 as part of a boundary settlement (which India does not accept).

Approximately 14,500 sq. miles in Ladakh is presently under Chinese occupation. The

old princely state is now comprised of five regions: Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, the

so-called Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), and the Northern Areas. Kashmir is

administratively divided into six districts with an area of 6,157 sq. miles and a population

of just over four million. The main language is Kashmiri with Gojari being spoken to a

lesser extent. Most Valley Muslims are Sunni with concentrations of Shias in certain

areas.

The Jammu region also consists of six districts with an area of 10,151 sq. miles and a

population of 3.6 million. Here, Hindus comprise 66.3% of the population but Doda,

Poonch and Rajouri districts have a Muslim majority, and Zanskar district has a Buddhist

majority. Ladakh, which includes the districts of Leh and Kargil, has an area of 37,337

sq. miles and a population of 171,000. Buddhists enjoy a small overall majority in the

region (51%) whereas in Kargil, Muslims, mostly Shias, constitute a majority of around

78%.

In Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK), there are five districts (Muzzafarabad, Mirpur,

Kotli, Poonch and Bagh) with an area of 5,134 sq. miles and an estimated population of

3.5 million. The people of PoK are mostly Sunni Muslims speaking a mix of Punjabi,

Pahari and Pushto. There are virtually no Hindus left in PoK. The Northern Areas

have a Shia majority population with significant numbers of Ismailis and Nurbakshis (a

Sufi sect). Shia-Sunni tensions have frequently run high here and there have been

periodic riots.

The overall population on the Indian side of the Line of Control was estimated in 1981 at

7.7 million with Muslims (64.3%), Hindus (32.1%), Sikhs (2.16%), Buddhist (1.17%)

and others, including Christians (0.26%). The Indian Constitution, which came into

effect on January 26, 1950, incorporated Article 370 which conferred certain distinct

rights and privileges to the citizens of Kashmir.

More than 300,000 Hindus have been driven out of the Valley between 1989 and 1991,

and some say that the more realistic figure is nearly 400,000.41 Confirming the violent

dispensation in that region, two prominent Asian security experts have visualized the area

west of India comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia emerging as a

zone of chaos by 2030.42 The events of September 11, 2001 have made the problem of

Islamist fundamentalism inspired terrorism more urgent in the area. The

Pakistan-Afghanistan area continues to be the main center of Islamic fundamentalism,

drug trafficking, illicit trade in small arms and international terrorism.

 

As a follow-up to ethnic cleansing of Hindus from the Indian State of Jammu and

Kashmir, Islamist militants are forcing changes in the names of many places including

those of towns, villages and roads. These efforts are aimed at eliminating any remnants

of the enduring Hindu presence from the entire region. According to reliable reports, the

names of over 300 villages in the Valley have been changed. Official recognition has

followed in many cases to avoid militant attacks. The process of changing the names of

places and even those of the rivers started from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir where the

Kishan Ganga River was renamed as River Nilam and Krishna Ghati was given the name

of Vade-e-Nilam; Sharda Peeth has been renamed as Daras-Gah-e-Sharief.

Name changes include Anantnag, which has been renamed as Islamabad; Ranghat

Mohalla in Baramulla has been given the name of Sayeed Karim Sahib; Post Office Road

of Baramulla has been given the name of Shah Masal Market.

Even in Jammu city several such Muslim names have been given to various localities. In

Janipura, a locality has been renamed as Ramzanpura and another one has been renamed

as Hyderabad; in Bathandi area, a locality has been renamed as Firdousabad and a colony

in Narwal area has been renamed as Qasim Nagar.

Similarly, such names have been given to the newly established educational institutions.

It is understood that all this is being done to Islamize the whole region and to establish

what fundamentalist Muslims refer to as Nizam-e-Mustafa (“System of Mustafa,” which

some have broadly defined as, “A system of virtuous equality…. a political system of

security and justice…. an economic system of justice and provision…. a spiritual system

of meditation [sic] thinking, and remembering Allah…. and a social system of

brotherhood”.

Source : Hindu American Foundation 2005

 

 

 

 

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