Jodhpur: On the other side of India’s Rajasthan border, seminaries in Pakistan have issued an ultimatum to Hindus to convert to Islam. Tomorrow (Sunday), 500 Hindus will be converted en masse.
The Pakistanis are targeting, in particular, those Hindus who had visited India under some pretext but could not settle here for various reasons. In the past three years, 1,379 Pakistani Hindus had to leave India and go back to their native place, which they had fled to escape persecution.
Chandu and family
The tablighis (those who convert individuals to Islam) in Sindh have distributed pamphlets to these Hindu families, intimating them that 500 of them will be converted on 25 March. One of these hapless Hindus is Chandu, an 80-year-old who had sought refuge in India but was deported on 5 August 2017.
Chandu, along with his wife Dhami, son Bhagvan, daughter-in-law Dharmi and grandchildren Dhiro, Mumal, Jairam and Kavita will all become Muslims tomorrow.
It was sheer misfortune for Chandu and family when the Rajasthan High Court stayed the order of their deportation at a time when the train that was taking them back to Pakistan had already crossed the international border.
Convert, or else girls will be raped
Asad Chandio, editor of Awami Awaaz based in Sindh, calls this a compulsion of Hindus in Pakistan. “If you were to ask me, I’d say that, after conversion, they can be sure their daughters will no longer face the threat of being abducted and raped,” he says.
Chandio is a journalist who constantly highlights the plight of the minority Hindu population in Pakistan. Consequently, he faced threats to his life, following which he migrated to the United States.
Hindu Singh Sodha, president of the Seemant Lok Sangathan in Rajasthan, uses the phrase “na ghar ka, na ghat ka” to describe Pakistan’s Hindu population, implying these people have no place to call their home. “If they live in Pakistan, they must convert. If they escape to India, they find it difficult to eke out a living, and they can be deported any day.”
This happens due to the lack of implementation of Narendra Modi government’s soft policy towards Hindu refugees at the district level by the Vasundhara Raje dispensation, locals said. After running from pillar to post to get rehabilitated in India, these Hindus return to Pakistan frustrated, only to meet the inevitability of conversion.
Forced to say they’re Muslim
Human rights activist Krishna Sharma and patron-in-chief of Pakistani Hindu Parishad Dr Ramesh Vanakwani write that no Pakistani Hindu has ever converted out of his or her free will. Married Muslim men kidnap Hindu girls, rape them and then threaten them to tell society that they’re Muslims.
The Hindu population in southern Sindh is sizeable. They are mostly daily-wage labourers in agricultural fields. Deprived of basic amenities and all state education and health facilities, these Hindus are easy prey for the Muslim landlords for whom they work.
Life imperilled even in Hindu-majority pockets
Naziha Saeed Ali of Dawn has reported that the number of madrassahs (seminaries) along the border of Rajasthan on the Pakistani side has increased from a few to 20 in the last 15 years. These seminaries have been opened to indoctrinate the new converts.
Several NGOs are active in Tharparkar and Umerkot to help only those who have embraced Islam. They provide the new converts with affordable housing, home appliances, dowry for children’s marriages, irrigation facilities for farmers, etc.
In several areas of Sindh, Hindus constitute more than 50% of the population, and yet they are at the mercy of the Islamists.