March 25, 2012
Chaitra Shukla Trutiya, Kaliyug Varsha 5114
The Hindu community has warned of mass migration from the country if immediate steps are not taken to stop forced conversions.
If steps were not taken, “a mass migration of Hindus [from Pakistan] is inevitable,” said a resolution adopted by a conference organised by the Pakistan Hindu Council at a hotel here on Sunday on the issue.
The resolution appealed to the government and the Supreme Court to take immediate remedial measures in cases of forced conversions.
More than 400 senior members and leaders of the Hindu community from across Sindh and Balochistan attended the conference, which was billed by some of the attendees as the largest Hindu congregation to take place in Karachi in recent times.
“Why is that only Hindu girls fall in love with Muslim men and convert to Islam with full conviction? Why don’t we ever hear of a Muslim boy or girl doing the same for the sake of love and perhaps rectitude?” asked Kalpana Devi, the vice-president of the Larkana Bar Association, while addressing the conference.
The conference took place just a day before the fate of Rinkle Kumari, a Hindu girl who was allegedly forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man, is to be decided by the apex court in Islamabad. “We don’t have any issues with a person who converts to another faith out of free will, but when someone is kidnapped and converted, it is difficult to keep quiet.”
Referring to what she believed was a “mindset”, she said, “If you have the mettle to take our girls and make them your daughter-in-law, then you should have the nerve to give us the same opportunity.” She continued, “But no, if this happens, the little girl or boy becomes Wajib-ul-Qatl, so it is always one-way traffic.”
The patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council said that this was the first time in the country’s history that the Hindus had come out on the streets to protest against injustice.
Speakers from various districts of Sindh and Balochistan agreed with Kalpana Devi’s claim that “the lava of oppression was burning for years; Rinkle Kumari’s case was the tipping point for us, and it brought the whole Hindu community together.”
The patron of the council said that the Hindus of Pakistan were insecure and they needed protection for their honour, life and property.
Approximately four to five cases of forced conversion surface every month in Sindh, with several others going unreported, according to Engr Hotchand Karmani. However, forced conversions are not the only issue that the Hindus of Pakistan face.
Extortion and kidnappings for ransom, along with cases of forced conversions, are the top three crimes being committed against Hindus in the country. This practice is particularly prominent in Sindh. “We need to stand together as one voice to fight this menace,” said Ramesh Kumar.
Lauding the MQM’s effort in the recovery of many kidnapped people, Kumar said, “We don’t have any Urdu-speaking people in Sindh. But we still get ‘parchis’. This negates the perception prevalent in Sindh that a certain political group is solely responsible for the extortion mafia.”
He also said that the Hindu community made a sizeable contribution to the GDP. “Two of Pakistan’s main exports are rice and cotton; if you look at the top 10 exporters of these two commodities, half of them are Hindus.”
“In developed countries, taxpayers are provided with security and the right to live peacefully, but in this country, it’s the opposite,” he claimed.
The speakers at the conference mostly deliberated on the issue of forced conversions. Kalpana Devi received huge applause from the audience for her speech, which she delivered in Sindhi. “We need to decide on the rules of the game. If Kareena Kapoor can marry Saif Ali Khan, Gauri can marry Shahrukh Khan and still keep their religious identity intact, then why do Hindu girls have to convert?”