Documents India

Hindus human rights violations

Hindus constitute an important minority in a number of countries around the world.

These communities, especially in South Asia, have experienced a tumultuous history,

often suffering severe human rights violations. Such human rights violations have

persisted for many generations, but have rarely attracted the sustained attention of human rights agencies. It is our intention to subject these human rights violations to regular scrutiny, which the fate of these communities surely deserves.

Followers of Hindu traditions, with a population estimated at nearly one billion people,

constitute the third largest religious group in the world, after Christians (about two billion

or 33% of the world’s population) and Muslims (1.2 billion or about 20%). The majority

of Hindus live in the Indian sub-continent and, numbering nearly 827 million, Hindus

constitute 80.5% of the population of India. However, the Hindu Diaspora reaches

beyond the Indian subcontinent to Europe, Africa, the Far East and North America where

they comprise substantial minorities. In the Fiji Islands and some Caribbean nations,

Hindus comprise near or outright majorities with representation at the highest levels of

government. As a “spiritual community” of related religious and cultural practices (the

major religious groups within Hinduism are Vaishnava, Smartha, Shaiva, and Shakta),

Hindus do not adhere to a single Scripture, or owe allegiance to a single religious

institution. Hindus regard Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs as a part of their own wider family

though they constitute distinct religious traditions themselves. This report excludes their

particular concerns though the fate of Buddhists in Tibet since 1950 is a matter of tragic

historical significance that has been the subject of investigation by various agencies.

While the issue of human rights is of global significance, this report focuses on ongoing

human rights violations in three regions where Hindus constitute a minority: Bangladesh,

Pakistan, and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir – a substantial portion of which is

claimed and occupied by Pakistan and China. The focus of this report is on these three

regions since colonial India, under the suzerainty of Great Britain, included these regions.

The departure of the British colonialists in 1947 left India divided into a Muslim majority

Pakistan (made up of two regions – West and East Pakistan) and a Hindu majority India.

India embraced secularism, proclaiming the State neutral between religions, but allowed

minorities to retain their own sectarian practices in areas like personal law. And India

established the largest and longest sustained democracy in the region. Pakistan

proclaimed itself as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with the adoption of a Constitution

based on Islamic jurisprudence, curtailing the political rights of the mainly Hindu

minority, who constituted approximately 23% of the population in West Pakistan and

29% in East Pakistan. The Hindu population has dwindled to less than 2% in the former,

and an estimated 9-10% in the latter. With Indian military intervention, East Pakistan

seceded in 1971 from West Pakistan following the genocide committed by the armed

forces of Pakistan against its own citizens, and it became Bangladesh. However, rapid

Islamization of the Bangladesh polity over the last decade has led to a substantial rise in

attacks against minority groups — the largest minority constituency being Hindu.

The Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir is the focus of territorial claims by Pakistan,

which has encouraged and abetted terrorism, successfully expelling the entire Hindu

population of several hundred thousand from the Kashmir valley through a campaign of

murder, rape and kidnap. Pakistani military posturing and an alleged threat of nuclear

warfare have diverted attention from the reality of atrocities against Hindus in Kashmir

since 1989. Successive Indian governments have paid scant attention to the fate of the

Hindu minority of Kashmir because they have concluded that attempting to address their

legitimate concerns might constitute an avoidable distraction for the political resolution

of the dispute over Kashmir. The media in India and abroad has taken the cue from this

fateful governmental silence over the human rights violations of Kashmiri Hindus by

largely ignoring them. World human rights organizations have also been muted in their

response to the tragedy that has overtaken Kashmir Hindus.

This first annual report on the status of Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India’s State

of Jammu and Kashmir will demonstrate that Hindu (and Buddhist) citizens of

Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Jammu and Kashmir, are suffering grievous violations of

universally recognized human rights. The absence of this issue from the global dialogue

on human rights, and the manifest absence of substantive documentation of human rights

abuse against Hindus by prominent media sources and non-governmental organizations

dedicated to human rights issues have prompted this report. This report also seeks to

provide a historical overview of the Indian subcontinent since 1947 and to create a

contextual framework to understand the genesis of the abuses documented herein.

 

Source : Hindu American Foundation 2005

 

 

 

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