Pakistan’s hard-line blasphemy laws are being used to unleash a rein of barbaric atrocities and crimes against religious minorities. That the members of the minority communities are treated like third-class citizens with almost no right to live a decent, secure life within the borders of Pakistan, is no secret. Neither is the fact that whoever has, in the past, tried to raise his/her voice against religious bigotry, has been persecuted to death.
While the Pakistani Christians have been continually suffering for being a minority community, the plight of the 3.5 million-odd Hindus of the nation is no different. It is perhaps worse as the Hindus are far less in numbers as compared to the Christians.
The most recent cases of appalling hostility being meted out to Pakistani Hindus include the heart -breaking story of 19-year-old Rinkle Kumari (pictured), a Hindu girl from Sindh province, who was kidnapped in February this year, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a local Muslim boy.
However, refusing to bow down to her fate scripted by Muslim radicals like scores of girls from other minorities, Rinkle raised her voice. Fortunately, a handful of moderates came forward in support of the brave girl. With a great deal of efforts from various quarters, Rinkle’s case landed in the Apex Court amid ruthless global gaze.
Rinkle was ready to fight back and had vowed to go back to her family. She rejected the very idea of living with her tormentor and said it in no unclear terms to a jam-packed Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The court gave her a choice between her family or husband. However, in a dramatic turn of events that shook the international media, Rinkle chose, on April 18, to go with her husband amid widespread allegations from family and relatives that she was forced to do so to for the sake of her family’s security. It is also alleged that tremendous political pressure was responsible for Rinkle’s volte-face in the court room on April 18.
Unfortunately, Rinkle is one of the millions of victims of extremist groups or individuals who abduct, rape and convert young Pakistani women and girls belonging to religious minorities – Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadias – to Islam and forcibly marry them off to Muslims. Others to suffer the atrocities committed on minority groups on Pakistan include Dr Lata Kumari from Karachi, Aamna Kohli from Tando Bago, and 15-year-old Aasha Kumari from Jacobabad. All these Hindu girls were kidnapped and converted to Islam, just like Rinkle.
According to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, nearly 20-25 Hindu girls are abducted every month, sexually and physically abused, raped, and forced to convert to Islam.
Giving voice to Pakistani Hindus’ woes, vice-chairperson of the HRCP, Sindh, had once said at a press conference: “We can’t even sleep at night, wondering whether our kidnapped girls would become suicide bombers or would they be sold off into prostitution.” That more or less sums up the wretched condition of the religious minorities in Pakistan.
Tired of living like refugees in their own country, these socially mutilated and economically weak Pakistani Hindus are slowly trying to make their way across the border into the Hindu-dominated India, in the hope of finding empathetic aid and perhaps, a secure place to hide.
The move has, however, not gone down well with India, which is trying to be extra cautious of Pakistanis crossing over to its side. Rightly so, going by the neighbouring country’s dismal show towards making any effort to maintain harmonious relations with India.
India’s prudence notwithstanding, refugee camps across the border states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat are brimming with Pakistani Hindus who have thronged their Hindu-dominated neighbouring nation in search of some peace and dignity of life.
But amid widespread political indifference, the condition of Pakistani Hindus remains deplorable in India too, sans any social or financial security.
Nothing has so far been done from the Indian side to provide any relief to the distraught Pakistani Hindus who continue to come here with expectations of peace and justice within the borders of the Hindu nation.
Worse, the Indian Government has made no effort to pressurise Pakistan to grant the country’s Hindus their rights.
The Ministry of External Affairs has maintained a studied silence on the issue, terming it to be an internal matter for Pakistan. The Ministry of Home Affairs, too, is mum, with fears of Pakistani spies plaguing it through the post-Independence era. Hence, India seems to have nothing at all with anyone from Pakistan, not even its persecuted minority which is part of the dominant community residing this side of the border.
The appalling apathy of the two neighbouring nations to the plight of the minority population of Pakistani Hindus is unpardonable. If Pakistan is being ridiculed for the heartless treatment to millions of girls like Rinkle, is not India to be blamed for it too for being a mute spectator?