Pakistani Hindu pilgrims arrive at the India-Pakistan border post in Wagah – Photo by AFP
Pakistani Hindu pilgrims arrive at the India-Pakistan border post in Wagah – Photo by AFP

HYDERABAD: A committee formed by President Asif Ali Zardari to look into reports of mass migration of Hindus to India has rejected claims that members of the minority community are leaving Sindh because of security fears.

According to a source, the committee had finalised its proposals and recommended that elements behind forced conversion of Hindu girls should be exposed regardless of their party affiliation. If they happened to be PPP members they should be denied tickets in next elections, the committee suggested.

The committee rejected claims of mass migration of Hindus and recommended that in case of ‘conversion’, the girl should be kept at a neutral place for about a fortnight and her parents and family members or husband must have access to her until she appeared in a court and made a final statement which then should be accepted by all sides.

The committee comprising Federal Minister for Political Affairs Maula Bux Chandio and Senator Hari Ram formulated the proposals after meeting leaders of Hindu community in Jacobabad and Hyderabad.

“Whoever is responsible for forced conversion should be taken to task. If he belongs to PPP he should be denied tickets in next elections,” said the source.

He said the committee was of the view that a kidnapping case should be treated as genuine till the girl made a final statement in court.

“She must be accessible to her parents so that they could talk to her and likewise her husband should also meet her because if it appears to be a genuine case of conversion and love marriage then no power on earth can restrain the girl from expressing her free will,” he said.

The committee would recommend that the girl should be kept at a neutral place until she appeared in court.

“The committee says it should be made legally mandatory so that parents can feel satisfied that they have been heard,” he said.

“In fact we need to end the sense of alienation among Hindus who are responsible citizens of the state like Muslims and, therefore, they shouldn’t be discriminated against for any reason…they pay taxes and abide by the law… still they feel discrimination when they raise voice on such issues,” said the source quoting committee members’ observation.

This sense of alienation could be allayed by influential people, landowners, parliamentarians concerned and the society at large, he said.

“It’s in no way migration. It’s not easy to get Indian citizenship. People are settling in countries like the UAE, Canada, UK or America but they have not given up their Pakistani citizenship. They have left for greener pastures,” said the source.

Incidents like extortion must be curbed. It is a crime when Muslims fall prey to it but if it takes place on the basis of religion it has to be tackled accordingly.

The committee said the issue pertaining to job quota should be resolved. If Hindus needed legislation on other issues they could also be discussed. “But the main issue is that of the sense of alienation which needs to be addressed so that the community feels secure,” said the source.