Mostly poor, these Hindus are concentrated in the Pakistani state of Sindh. Their poverty makes it easier for an already indoctrinated Muslim society to persecute them even more with threats, abductions and forced conversions.
New Delhi: The recent kidnapping and conversion of two Hindu girls to Islam in Pakistan's Sindh province has brought back the horror of Pakistani Hindus now living in India.
These refugees claim that Pakistani Muslims will never treat Hindus as their own. They say conversion to Islam is a ‘chronic’ problem of the Pakistani society. It will continue till the last Hindu is converted—which is what Pakistan’s Hindus believe.
The abduction and forced conversion of two girls in Pakistan sparked nationwide outrage in India. The girls were allegedly kidnapped and converted in the Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi.
Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was shown solemnising the nikah (marriage) of the two girls.
MyNation spoke to Pakistani Hindus who have now returned to India and now live in pockets near Majnu Ka Tila and Adarsh Nagar area in Delhi to find out how their experience was in Pakistan. All the refugees only had horror stories to narrate.
“The entire world is watching how Pakistan treats Hindus. I have seen extremists in Pakistan sedate and convert families by force. Young girls are converted and forced to marry Muslim men. Hindus — who are mostly poor — are suppressed in Pakistan. Their poverty makes them more vulnerable to persecution. We were fortunate to survive all this and flee to India,” said Sona Das, who returned to India in 2012 and was living in Singh area in Pakistan.
Sindh in southern Pakistan has a higher percentage of Hindus than the rest of the country. Three districts, Mirpurkhas (33% Hindus), Tharparkar (36% Hindus) and Umerkot (49% Hindus), contribute to the significant Hindu community in Sindh and these are the districts where most underage Hindu girls are reportedly forced to convert and then married off.
“The recent incident of kidnapping and conversion has caught everyone’s attention but kidnapping and forcefully converting girls to Islam is chronic and such incidents will not stop. If someone retaliates, they are killed and we have seen it all.”
“Such atrocities are mostly done on Hindus of the lower caste who are mostly poor. There are several videos available on the internet about it. Initially, they try to convert with Islamic preaching. Once a person does not agree, he/she is converted by force,” said Nehru Lal who came from Pakistan in 2013 and lives here in Adarsh Nagar.
Refugees explained there were two crore Hindus in Pakistan during partition but now only 20-25 lakh are left, rest are converted but in India the Muslim population is growing.
It is only the fear of rejection by India too that Hindus are living in Pakistan. The day India opens its door for Pakistani Hindus, everyone will come back, they said.
Talking about Imran Khan's ‘Naya Pakistan’, Nehru Lal said, “Everybody thought he would be better than Nawab Sharif but the situation has deteriorated. He, along with Pakistan Army, shield terrorists because of which both the people of Pakistan and India are troubled.”
“Hindus are living in constant fear of Muslims in Pakistan. Hindu women are illiterate, which is why most of the Hindus have returned or half-heartedly converted. We can't even expect justice from the higher authorities. Muslims in Pakistan are like Aurangzeb, they are on a conversion drive there. We can live without food and basic facilities here but won't go back," said Bhagu Ram another.
Every year, Muslim men abduct and forcibly convert about 1,000 girls — mostly Hindus, but also Christians — according to the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, a local human rights group.
About 5,000 Pakistani Hindus leave every year for neighbouring India — where 80% are Hindus — to escape religious persecution, according to the Pakistan Hindu Council.
Legislation banning such conversions for those under the age of 18 years was passed unanimously late last year by the legislature in the southern province of Sindh, where the Kohlis live, but it never went into effect.
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Last Updated Mar 26, 2019, 6:01 PM IST