On 4 December 2012 six year old Vijanti Meghwar was brutally raped in Ghulam Nabi Shah village, district Taluka Pithoro Umerkot, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Vijanti belongs to the Meghwar community of the country’s minority Hindu population. She was found unconscious and lying in the street. Such a heinous crime was made easier by the fact that the Meghwars are Hindu and therefore powerless and helpless against mass intolerance and bigotry.
Now the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan is nothing new. Violence and atrocities against the minority population of Sindh has continued for many years but the Hindu minority are increasingly being treated worse than animals. Kidnapping of their girls and sexually assaulting their innocent children has crossed all bounds of humanity, made easier by the ‘untouchable’ status which these powerless Hindu minorities are forced to exist under. Journalists attempting to report the story of Vijanti have also been threatened. Under these circumstances is it any surprise that the persecution of Hindus in Pakistan rarely gets reported?
I have worked for a few years now with other organisations representing Pakistani minorities such as Christians in order to highlight the oppressive atmosphere under which these communities have to subsist. Through protests, petitions and even meetings at the High Commission the collective of such groups has implored the government of Pakistan to look seriously at the situation. But instead of improving the matters have only got worse. Pakistan receives substantial aid from British taxpayers, money which is being used to effectively ethnically cleanse the country of its indigenous minorities with total impunity. Only the day before Vijanti was raped, property developers razed a Hindu temple in the Doli Khata area of Karachi.
The tragic case of Vijanti is therefore not an isolated phenomenon. In February 2012 over 200 Hindus fled Pakistan after 19-year old Rinkle Kumari was abducted her village Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki province of Pakistan, and subsequently forcibly converted and forcibly married. Her abductors had powerful political connections and after two months the country’s supreme court ruled against her parents. Kidnappings, rapes, forcible conversions and constant harassment are therefore a daily routine for Hindus who dare to remain in their homeland of Pakistan and suffer the humiliation of being third class citizens and subhumans in the eyes of the majority and legal system
Yet the world averts its gaze at these atrocities. Contrast this with how much attention was given to Rimsha Masih, the disabled Christian girl who was accused under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. Or Malala Yousafzai, the Muslim girl shot by the Taliban when she attempted to promote education for females. Do Hindus simply not count when it comes to evaluating human rights abuses? Where are the international denunciations? Where are the protests? Is there silence with regards to Vijanti Meghwar and Rinkle Kumari simply because they are Hindus? Uncomfortable questions indeed but they need to be asked in the face of global apathy.
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