THE jury is still out on the details surrounding the death of Nimrita Chandani, a final-year student at the Bibi Aseefa Dental College in Larkana. The judicial probe formed at the request of the Sindh government will hopefully shed more light on the tragic incident. Meanwhile, anger is rising. Protests have been held in several cities of the province, including Mirpur Mathelo, Larkana and Hyderabad. Demonstrations have also been held in Karachi by students, along with members of civil society and the medical fraternity that tend to support Nimrita’s family’s claim that she was murdered and did not take her own life. Hopefully, the protests will put pressure on the authorities not to slacken, though it must also be understood that speculation will cause more confusion, and only a thorough, uninterrupted probe can clarify matters. Whatever the circumstances of her death, ready judgements might hamper an impartial probe, besides making it more difficult for her family to cope in their hour of grief.
In the backdrop of targeted violence against Hindus — especially the recent violence in Ghotki and Mirpurkhas — and the issue of forced conversion of Hindu girls, it is no surprise that Nimrita’s community feels stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hence, it was heartening to see civil society rallying together for the protection of minorities. The protest in Karachi was also attended by the leader of a religious party. Participants demanded another judicial inquiry into the desecration of temples in Ghotki, following an incident of alleged blasphemy by a Hindu school owner earlier in the week. As disturbing as the violence (that also damaged businesses owned by the Hindu community) in Ghotki was, it was reassuring to see images on social media showing Muslims sitting inside the temples to prevent further destruction by a raging mob. These intermittent displays of support by people belonging to the majority faith show that there are pockets of tolerance that might help the country overcome its larger demons.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2019