The rape of a 6 year old child in Pakistan has once again brought in to focus the precarious existence of the Hindu minority in that country. Vijanti Meghwar was subjected to this appalling crime by local Muslims in her locality.
Historical animosities between the Hindu and Muslim communities led to an unprecedented bloodbath on the partition in 1947 and amidst this unparalleled wave of ethnic cleansing and murder the independent nations of India and Pakistan were created.
Each nation contained substantial minorities of the ‘other’ as well as substantial groups of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jains. It seemed as if the millennia old struggle in South Asia from the advent of Islam into the subcontinent had finally been settled –Some even breathed a sigh of relief that despite the horrors of the bloody partition such scenes and inequalities would not be seen again.
A Muslim minority of around 15% remained in India and today despite the shrill overtones of various extremists the figure remains around the same figure. Occasional bouts of rioting sometimes on a large scale have marred otherwise a reasonable degree of progress of the Muslim minority – from the fields of sports, media, politics – even to the President of India have found Muslim and other minority groups finding representations. The Indian constitution very firmly defines itself as a socialist republic and a very assertive press and left leaning intelligentsia have determinedly opposed the rise of Political Hinduism otherwise known as Hindutva.
The burning alive of 58 Hindu pilgrims in 2002 led to the appalling loss of life in the Gujarat riots which followed and the Chief Minister of that state Narendra Modi has been pilloried as a violent extremist harbouring a fascist world view – the English speaking media in India in particular has all but an undeclared policy of not granting the Chief Minister any interviews and other leftist ‘intellectuals’ and social workers have taken it on themselves to create pressure on the Indian establishment by lobbying with foreign countries and the United Nations to deny foreign visa to Narendra Modi and to besmirch his name and reputation. The picture of the Muslim man Qutududdin Ansari beseeching the mob has been etched into the ethos of modern India. This victim of the riots fled to left ruled Kolkata to save himself.
Hindu majority India has evolved and continues to evolve a modern ethos rooted in the old Indian traditions based on acceptance and respect of differing viewpoints and ideas. Even a radical and provocative preacher like Zakir Naik is allowed to freely propagate his somewhat eccentric preaching’s despite being denied entry to countries like the United Kingdom, the U.S.A and others.
The glare of the media and politics on perceived injustices and obscurantism in India however leaves a nagging issue in my mind. Although the secular and modern media in India seems to have actively entered the realm of modern journalism and investigative techniques there seemed to be a gap in perception.
One cannot help but notice the appalling state of the Hindu minority in the neighboring countries, indeed everywhere where Hindus are in a minority. Even in the small Indian state of Nagaland, a Christian dominated state has seen calls from armed groups for the state to be cleansed of Hindus and any public displays linked to the Hindu faith.
Armed insurgents have also appeared in the nearby states of Tripura and others killing Hindus and destroying Hindu temples. The horrifying murder by Christian insurgents of Bikram Bahadur Jamatia in Tripura – the prime Hindu leader of that state in the same month and year as the brutal killing of the Christian missionary Graham Staines in Orissa went virtually unreported in the Indian media or by activists.
The violent Khalistani insurgency in Punjab in the 1980’s and 90’s saw calls for the Hindu minority of that state to be expelled. Numerous massacres and murders of Hindus and destruction of their holy places punctuated the brutal reign of terror unleashed over Punjab in those days – Even recent years and months have seen the remnants of these fascists again call for an ethnic cleansing of the Hindus from Punjab
Further north we have seen the entire ethnic cleansing of nearly 400,000 Hindus from the Kashmir valley in 1990-1991. Twenty years later they languish in refugee camps and lacking political support have become utterly stateless and homeless. Their homes and temples have been occupied by their erstwhile Muslim neighbours whilst the Indian media waxes lyrical about the secular and humanist tolerant Kashmiri ethos – It made me wonder why that self-same humanity and tolerance does not extend to the Hindu minority – And what has been the reaction of the Indian state – to tag these unfortunate people as ‘migrants’ as opposed to being refugees fleeing from murder and rape. Indeed some ‘new age’ political theorist like the award winning Arundhati Roy have gone so far as to label these ‘migrants; as extremists and anti Muslims whilst sharing the stage with radical preachers like Syed Geelani who once most infamously stated
The neighboring districts of Jammu have also seen attempts to terrorise the Hindu residents, most notably in the brutal massacres of Surankote, Wandama,Udhampur and others. The attackers spared neither young nor old and were notable in their particularly horrifying brutality. Here the Hindu population has formed defence groups to protect their villages and hamlets from attack
Across the border the situation gets even worse. The advent of radical Islam and the imposition of sharia law the Hindu minority (almost unnoticed in the world) numbering just 50,000 to accept an inferior status, in an imitation of Nazi Germanys treatment of the Jews Hindus were told to wear distinctive yellow badges and to have their businesses and homes ‘Islamised’ for the benefit of the faithful- Unsurprisingly the Hindu minority has almost dwindled down to nothing and nothing more than a handful of fearful people now occupy that ancient land.
The 1971 Indo-Pak war saw the creation of the independent state of Bangladesh – this was predicted by an unprecedented orgy of violence and rape leading to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people in a period of ten months by the hands of the Pakistan army – Hindus and other Bengalis perceived to be not Muslim enough were particularly targeted in an orgy of bloodshed that till today has received little or no recognition in the world – the perpetrators of this genocide walk free today
Post partition the poorest among the Hindu population was either slaughtered or as a compromise adopted the Christian faith in order to live in peace. The remaining tiny Hindu community labour under the repressive ‘Huddood’ laws limiting representation of the Hindus in the courts and legislature as well as suffering other social and legal disabilities.
Hindus are not permitted to wear the marks of their faiths, i.e. the tilak/bindi or are permitted open celebration of their festivals and. Even after death they are punished as the Punjab regional government does not permit the cremation of the death and they are forced to take the bodies of the deceased to the Sindh province in the south of Pakistan. Mosques now sit atop the ancient Hindu temples – the fearful few who remain live a precarious life carefully even naming their children with ‘Islamic’ sounding first names (cricketers – Danish Kaneria – Aneel Dalpat) Their children are refused admission to schools – and just like further south in the Sindh province kidnappings are rapes are sickeningly common – the abduction of Rinkle kumara caused an outrage
Baluchistan – The Hindu population of this area is now dwindled to a few thousands – recent operations by the Pakistan army against Balcuhi insurgent saw the destruction of all but the last remaining Hindu temples and the routine kidnapping for ransom of Hindus has left the last remaining Hindu population fleeing to India for protection.
The province of Sind still contains a substantial Hindu population – they are however under an appalling pressure to convert – abduction has reached epidemic levels with children being kidnaped from their very homes as the recent tragic case involving Rinkle Kumari has shown . The authorities fail to take action and the parents arrive in court to meet howling mobs of extremists armed with Kalashnikovs and AK -47 machine guns. – The crossing to India – the route for escape is forbidden in Sindh and the only exit point granted is in Punjab – hundreds of miles to the north and prohibitively expensive. Even when leaving to India many are warned not to talk against the state of Pakistan and are forced to leave details of their relatives in Pakistan who presumably would take the brunt of any punitive action that would otherwise be applied to them.
Stories of the refugees arriving in India are meet with apathy and little response from the burgeoning Indian media. The pitiable and woeful economic station of the Hindu refugees make a marginal impact in the Indian establishment
A recent article noted that the repeated atrocities against the last remaining Hindus of Pakistan were like a final chapter in the sordid and bloodied partition of the subcontinent. Within another generation the Hindus will be wiped out from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir and under a growing and relentless attack in Bangladesh.
I could not help but notice that India is a gloriously divers country – that despite its problems it is teeming with variety and culture – I could also not help but notice that this vibrancy was only applicable in areas where the Hindus are in a majority In EVERY other apart of the subcontinent where Hindus are or were in a minority Hindus have been ethnically cleansed – or are being ethnically cleansed or an attempt has been made to drive them out via ethnic cleansing.The India media when engaged with discourse with and about the votaries of political Hinduism often bandy with great abandon words like ‘genocide’ and ‘pogroms’
This if of course an absurdity. These words were applied to the regime of Nazi Germany and its appalling crimes against humanity which led directly to the deaths of nearly 70 million people – to apply this to modern India is a crass fraud and a crime against the truth. Hindu population is now virtually non-existent in over 25% of South Asia. This is genocide and a crime against humanity.
Qutubuddin Ansari – the face of the Gujarat riots has returned to his home in Gujarat to participate in peace and safety in that states economic boom. Where will the little girl Vijanti Meghwar go ? where will she seek justice – How can she who cannot yet speak seek justice – What will happen to her people – What will happen to the truth – If we do not speak now the ethnic cleansing will continue – the murderers are rapists walk free without any compunction or sense of shame – This genocide must end.
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