PPP wants Sindhi Hindus to vote for them, but won’t protect them!
On March 16, 2014, while Pakistan’s Hindu community celebrated Holi, the country witnessed an unpleasant incident in Sindh’s Larkana District, where a frenzied mob turned violent following a rumour that a member of the Hindu community, Sangeet Kumar, 35 – reputed to be a drug addict – had desecrated the Holy Quran.
In Larkana, after the incident, people wanted to harm the accused man but the police and rangers, somehow, managed to take him away to a safe location. After his safe escape, however, the angry mob attacked and vandalised the Sindhi Hindus’ dharamshala (community centre) and also partially damaged a Hindu temple in the same district, to express their anger.
This district, which is the hub of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), houses more than two million Sindhi Hindus. And as compared to Pakistan’s other three provinces, Sindhi Hindus make up a great chunk of Sindh’s total population. But they, in spite of being densely populated in Sindh, are neglected by the PPP government socially, politically and economically.
As far as the attack on the temple in Larkana is concerned, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP’s Patron-in-Chief, condemned it via Twitter but, unfortunately, did not come out of the Twitter world to meet and compensate the Sindhi Hindus whose shops and properties were burnt down in the incident.
I consider attack on temple akin to attack on GKB.perpetrators will b brought 2 justice as will people who spread lies and incited violence
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) March 16, 2014
Besides the Larkana incident, there are three more reasons why PPP can be held reprehensible for the Sindhi Hindus’ suffering.
First reason: Thar and the famine
Thar, where Sindhi Hindus are overwhelmingly populated, has been suffering from a grievous famine. So far, it has taken away the lives of more than 150 Sindhi Hindu children. And they could not even celebrate Holi, due to the bereavement that a large number of their children have died of malnutrition in the famine-hit-areas of Thar.
Under these circumstances, how can anyone celebrate his/her religious festivities?
Besides this incident, Thar has remained neglected for years. After the fatalities of these children, the mainstream national media unearthed the issues of Thar’s dwellers, which ranged from socio-economic problems and dysfunctional systems to lack of educational institutions, clean drinking water and low literacy rate. They have been suffering from these issues for decades now while the PPP has turned a blind eye to them.
Second reason: Destruction of the Shri Krishna Bhagwan temple in Karachi
Secondly, during PPP’s rule in 2012 – when they were holding majority seats in both the province and the centre – a furious crowd was rallying against the anti-Islam film, the Innocence of Muslims, and to vent out their anger, the mob damaged Pakistan’s sole and oldest temple, The Shri Krishna Bhagwan, in Karachi. Surprisingly, there were no security guards for the security of the temple, at such a volatile time. That is why they desecrated the temple with ease. They also plundered the valuables of the Hindus living in the vicinity of the temple. This time, too, none of the desecrators were brought to justice.
Third reason: Forced conversions of Hindu girls
Thirdly, the forced conversion cases of Hindu girls in Sindh have not yet been resolved.
Though this trend began in the 1970s, it intensified tremendously during the PPP regimes later on, where Hindu girls would routinely be picked up from anywhere in the interior Sindh and would be forced to denounce their faith and accept Islam.
One such example is that of Rinkal Kumari, who was forcibly converted in 2012 and her case was also taken up by the Supreme Court.
Similarly, her uncle, Raj Kumar, while speaking during in a seminar at the Karachi Press Club called his six-year-old Jumna on to the stage and said that she and her 10-year-old sister Pooja would have been forced to change their religion, had the media not raised their case.
Yet, these cases of forced conversions have not been taken seriously. Such cases have compelled many Sindhi Hindus to migrate to India. And many of them have left the province for other parts of the country in hopes of safer lives.
Despite the aforementioned reasons, the PPP always peels away the Hindus’ votes in Sindh. Neither the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nor the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has been able to get votes from them. Therefore, minority voters see no other option but to vote for PPP, despite the multiple challenges they encounter.
PPP has a responsibility towards every voter and the fact that PPP has voters from the Hindu minority makes them responsible for the deplorable conditions they are in today.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.