Brides of contention- (article from 1994..the more things change..)
Also see this article from a few days ago..and dont miss this video celebrating Rinke Kumari’s conversion (reversion?) to Islam, complete with poetry by Allama Iqbal Jihadi..
By Hasan Mujtaba (btw, notice that communists and socialists in both India and Pakistan have been more consistent than most in fighting such evils, sometimes at great personal risk)
( I wrote this story about forced conversion of Hindu women in Pakistan of 1994. So far forced conversion of Hindu women nothing has been changed. Even the modus operandi of forced conversions and its operaters remain as the same)…… …… ……… …….
On January 19, a Hindu girl named Daya Bai disappeared from her house in Daharki, district Ghotki (Sindh, Pakistan). She surfaced ten days later outside the deputy commissioner’s office, wearing bridal clothes,and accompanied by several hundred strong gathering (MANY OF WHOM WERE ARMED WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS) led by pirs of Bharchundi chanting allaho – akbar. During the nikah (wedding) that followed, Daya Bai’s mother wept inconsolably, repeatedly striking her head on the floor in anguish,”let me meet my daughter even if she is getting married’ she implored but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
For the Hindu community in Sukkur and Larkana, Daya Bai’s disappearance, conversion to Islam and subsequent marriage with a Muslim in suspicious circumstances is not unpresedented occurance. Between January and February at least 3 Hindu girls, Daya Bai from Daharki, Shakuntala from Pano Aquil, and Bhagawanti, the daughter of a Larkana professor were allegedly kidnapped from from their homes at the gunpoint. Of the three, Daya Bai and Bahgawanti converted to Islam and married muslim men whereas Shakunatala’s whereabouts are not known. Shakuntala, allegedly kidnapped from her home by a man named Kalhoro, she embraced Islam and married to someone other than her abductor. Speculation abounds that she may have been sold. The story of the daughter of Koro Mal, Hindu trader from Larkana, is similar. THERE ARE SEVERAL SUCH INSTANCES IN WHICH GIRLS BELIEVED TO HAVE ELOPED WITH THEIR MUSLIM LOVERS ARE NOT MARRIED TO THEM BUT WERE EITHER MARRIED OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE OR KILLED.
The increasing incidents of forcible conversions and marriages of Hindu girls have compelled some Hindus to migrate to India to protect their daughters and family honor. ‘The parents of girls who have met this fate are like the living dead’ says Ghanshyam Das a social worker in Kashmore.
Similarly, as Mukhi Nihalchand, a Hindu community leader in Rohri points out forcible conversion of Hindu men continues unreported and unabated. The concversion at Bharchundi of a Hindu boy from a wealthy Umerkot family sometime back is a case in point. After a while, the boy reconverted to Hinduism and migrated to India with his family.
The history of forcible conversion of Hindus dates back to PRE-TALPUR PERIOD WHEN A HINDU WAS CONSIDERED CONVERTED TO ISLAM ON THE FLIMSIEST OF PRETEXTS: for instance if he pronounced the word ‘raso’(string), bystanders would swear that he had said Rasool (prophet) and had become a Muslim. Excesses against Hindus increased during Talpur era. Any Hindus seen riding a horse would be immediately converted by force because it was believed that the horse was an Islamic means of transportation. Naunmal, one time loyalist of the Talpurs and a traitor in the eyes of the Sindhis, encouraged British to attack Sindh because some of his relatives had been forcibly circumcised by the Muslims. The first British spy, James Burnes in fact wrote in ‘The Court of Mirs’ an account of his travels in Sindh: ” I fail to understand how Hindus still prefer living in Sindh despite all kinds of atrocities perpetrated against them”
Some shrines in Sindh such as those of Makhdoom Muhammed Hashim and Hafiz Mohammed Siddiqui in Bharchindi, Mosques in Thanvi and Madrassas in Matiari and Amrot have acquired reputation as centers for forcible conversion.The pirs of Bharchundi have continued to patronise excesses committed against Hindus by the majority Muslim populace. In the early ’70s A MAN WHO MURDERED 7 HINDUS IN A TEMPLE IN SUKKUR WAS ACCLAIMED AS A HERO BY THE RELIGIO-POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE AREA.
Communist activist Sobho Gyanchandani recalls an incident during the early ’50s when he was summoned by an intellegence officer for his political views. “The officer told me: YOU HAVE COMMITTED 3 CRIMES. YOU ARE a Sindhi, a communist and ABOVE ALL, A HINDU. AND THERE IS NO PLACE FOR HINDUS HERE”. Sobho was jailed along with faiz Ahmed Faiz and others in the famous Rawalpindi conspiracy case.
During the ’65 and ’71 wars, Hindu governement servants living orposted along the Pak-Indian border in Sindh were transferred to farflung areas.
The darkest period for Sindhi Hindus in recent history, however was when dacoits held the province to ransom and forces of religious ethnicity and religious fanticism predominated. Vitriolic tirades against Hindus such as those by Dr. Israr Ahmed published in leading daily ‘Jang’ , helped to spread message of hate. General Zia’s patronage of mullahs encouraged Jamaat-i-Islami to launch organised campaign against Hindus in Sindh. AS A RESULT RECENT YEARS SAW THE LARGEST MIGRATION OF HINDUS TO INDIA SINCE THE EXODUS AT PARTITION.
Hindus were also primarily on the receiving end from dacoit gangs infesting Sindh at this time. The first victim of kidnapping was a Hindu trader from Daharki. Hindus were easy prey because they had no access to state machinary’ Says a Sindhi feudal who is suspected patharidar.Wealthy Hindus had to pay protection money to the dacoit gangs and their patrons to avoid being kidnapped.”Some Sindhi nationalist organizations were also hand in glove in kidnapping them or receiving protection money” says a bitter young Hindu whose father was kidnapped.
Recently, in the backlash to the Babri incident, MQM processionists led by Shabbir Hashmi attacked a temple at Pucca Qila and looted a considerable quantity of gold from there. “There is irrefutable evidence of abetment by religious and ethnic organizations, intellegence agencies, and local influentials of those who attacked the lives, properties and temples of Hindus” states Sobho Gyanchandani.
Unlike other parts of Sindh, Hindus living in Sukkur and Larkana dominate grain and agriculture market. Until partition many of the Hindus lived in surrounding rural areas. Those who did not migrate to India relocated to the urban centers. Their uneasy relationship with Muslim neighbors is manifested by the fact that instead of residing inindividual residences scattered over a large area, they usually live in sprawling havelis comprising of a hundred or more dwellings. “We feel isolated and insecure” says Darshan Lal, a young businessman in Ghotki.Even young Boys are rarely seen walking alone.
IN FRIDAY SERMONS IN MANY TOWNS ACROSS SINDH JEHAD IS OFTEN DECLARED AGAINST HINDUS, AND MUSLIMS ARE EXHORTED TO CONVERT HINDU WOMEN TO ISLAMBY MARRYING THEM. ” Such words influence the thinking of even simple Sindhi Muslims” says Rochiram, a senior lawyer and human rights activist in Mirpukhas.
A Hindu citizen, an economist by profession,maintains that “this is an entirely new phenomena which never existed during my school days.” He says his 8 year old daughter Kalpana and 10 YEAR OLD nephew Mohan COMPLAIN THATTHEY ARE ASKED BY THEIR CLASSMATES WHY THEY DON’T BECOME MUSLIMS.”MOHAN’S CLASSMATES DO NOT EVEN LET HIM DRINK WATER FROM THE SAME GLASS”.
For the common Hindu of Sindh, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. In Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts where more than 90 percent of Pakistan’s Hindus live, they are prime targets of the intellegence officials. All the mail from Hindus between India and Pakistan is censored. Intellegence officials extrort mothly bribes from Hindus who regualrly communicate with their relatives in India.
Confronted with sustained harassment, humiliation and victimisation,many Hindu families in Sindh have migrated to India and continue to do so. “Among those applying for visas at Indian consulate in Karachiare a considerable numebr of Hindus from interior Sindh who plan topermanently settle in India” says a Hindu in Tharpakar, “in a crowd of 700 at least 300 are Hindus of whom 75 percent have no intention of returning to Pakistan”
(Reproduced with courtesy ‘Newsline’, Karachi, March 1994)