Hindu community protests against kidnappings, ‘forced’ conversion

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MEMBERS of the Hindu community from Kohistan stage a rally in Hyderabad on Thursday.—Dawn
MEMBERS of the Hindu community from Kohistan stage a rally in Hyderabad on Thursday.—Dawn

HYDERABAD: Several hundred members of the Hindu community belonging to the Kohistan belt — comprising parts of Jamshoro and Thatta districts — took out a rally from Pakistan Chowk to the local press club on Thursday against increasing incidents of kidnapping and alleged forced conversion of Hindu girls.

Activists of various civil society organisations and nationalist groups also participated in the rally, organised by an entity calling itself the ‘Voice of Kohistan’ in the backdrop of a recent case involving a girl belonging to Thatta.

The rally participants were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans against ‘forced’ conversion of Hindu, Sikh and Christian girls. They raised slogans for protection of the womenfolk of their community.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Khiyaldas Kohis­tani, Women Action Forum (WAF) activist Haseen Musarrat, Punhal Sario, Bhagwandas, Deewan Lekhraj, Mahesh Kumar, Neelam Kumari, Dr Bakhtawar Jam and others spoke to the protesters.

They said that the Constitution guaranteed protection to the life and property of all citizens but Hindus felt insecure due to off and on incidents of kidnapping and “forced conversion” of their girls. They claimed that Hindu families were afraid of sending their daughters to school.

They regretted that though Hindus were equal citizens of the country, they were not being provided due protection.

“We are indigenous people; we are not going to leave Sindh, come what may!” a Hindu speaker at the rally said, and warned that if their voice was not heard, they would hold rallies in Karachi and Islamabad as well.

Other speakers wondered why the state was not responding to them. They referred to the March 15 shooting incident at a New Zealand mosque after which its prime minister shared grief of the Muslim community “but our prime minister appears least concerned about the plight of the Hindu community here”.

They said that a Thatta girl, an intermediate student, appeared in a Karachi court recently and it was claimed that she had embraced Islam and contracted a marriage with her teacher. Expressing serious doubts over the claim, they said they would go to every limit to seek her recovery.

They claimed that over 50 minority community girls had been kidnapped over the last four months. They called for safeguarding the rights of Hindus so that they could study in their institutions without any fear.

The speakers urged the government to enact law for the protection of Hindu girls and help curb “forced conversion”. They complained that the federal government was not paying any heed to their calls in this regard.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2019