Pakistan: Multiple Fire incidents and forced suicides of minorities during Corona crisis

Pakistan: Multiple Fire incidents and forced suicides of minorities during Corona crisis

In shocking reports from Pakistan, human rights activist Rahat Austin has counted five different incidents of fires at Hindu population localities in last one week alone. In first instance the videos shared by him show charred bodies of three children at Shakil Mahar village near Dad Leghari in district Ghotki of Sindh, Pakistan.

It is difficult to find reports of atrocity on minority in Pakistani media however we have identified report of at least one incident in local news media. In their report local media has not disclosed the reason behind the fire.

Rahat has suggested that five incidents of fire cannot be an accident but deliberate and organized efforts by Islamic extremists against Hindu community. He has even shared video of Pakistan Peoples Party’s MP, Bari Khan Patafi & News Channels & media visiting one of the incident’s sites. Canada based TAG TV journalist Anis Farooqui has also independently confirmed the incident by calling it ‘Hindu genocide’.

Rahat has been continuously reporting multiple incidents of suicides by Hindus and Christians due to denied rations by NGOs and Pakistan government.

Following are the excerpt of Rahat’s tweets. We have excluded graphic contents since they are extreme in nature.

It should be noted that non-muslims in Pakistan are target of severe persecution by the majority community in Pakistan. Abduction, rape and forcible conversions to Islam of minorities women is quite common in Pakistan.

Tweet contents:

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.#Breaking A House of Hindu bhail community set on fire 3 small children are dead, burnt alive while a woman is severely burned in village, Daad Laghari, Dherki, Ghotki, Sindh, Pakistan pic.twitter.com/Jt23Odjbvz

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 5, 2020

Just few hours ago, another incident of Setting fire to Houses of Hindus community in Village Umeed Ali Rindh, tehsil Chhachhado,Tharparker,Sindh-Pakistan.7 houses of Kesu Gandhi and others catch fire and burnt.This is 2nd incident today. In other incident 3 children burnt alive. pic.twitter.com/mxB5gXz9rk

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 5, 2020

We are thankful to Sindh Government and Pakistan Peoples Party’s MP, Bari Khan Patafi that he visited Dharki, Raja Farm where 3 Hindu children were burnt alive and a woman was injured. We appreciate that step sir but please adress the real issue. Beating around Bush is of no use https://t.co/J30ufSDTRz pic.twitter.com/jR0NT5dija

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 6, 2020

A hindu woman Shirimati Radha W/o Dumont Kohli is found dead in Village Patel Laku, Rajo Khanani, Badin, Sindh-Pakistan.its said that she has committed suicide. pic.twitter.com/gRxnpDyDjb

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 6, 2020

It is difficult to have 2 times meal for non-muslims in normal times but now in corona lockdown, majority of them is starving. Government officials & NGOs distribute food in Muslim Neighborhood but non-muslims are refused. They are humiliated,beaten & asked to convert to get food https://t.co/W81LNkgikZ pic.twitter.com/6e3RI9PGcp

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 6, 2020

A Hindu woman, Shirimati Dia w/o Zal kaju Kohli commited suicide becouse of poverty and hunger in Village Haji Sultan, Jhudo, Mirpur Khas, Sindh, Pakistan. Corona lockdown is proved deadliest for non-muslims as mostly are poor, starving but denied rations by NGOs and government. pic.twitter.com/wsKHidiZzA

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 7, 2020

Today, 10-04-2020 around 1:00 PM. Homes of Poor Hindus, cattle & everything withing was Burnt in Village Saeed Abad, Link Road, District Dadu, Sindh-Pakistan. Due to Corona lockdown, People are already starving, committing suicide. Now they Lost everything.Their Lives destroyed. pic.twitter.com/1MoTqmJcKb

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 10, 2020

A Hindu Family is beaten, threatened to be killed if not converted to Islam in PIA Township,Shah faisal Colony,karachi-Pakistan. Since a week, Muhammad Usman & Neighborhood using roof top of victim’s home forcefully for prayers, 5 times a day to convert hindus. No case registered pic.twitter.com/m9bFCFnryy

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 12, 2020

WARNING:GRAPHIC CONTENT:
A House burnt & a 10-year-old hindu Child burnt alive in Goth Gul Muhammad, Sinjhoro, Sanghar, Sindh-Pakistan.
I don’t want to post such incidents but its 5th incident in a week. It seems fire got a hobby as it has nothing to do because of Corona lockdown pic.twitter.com/eXFmBxFMrD

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 14, 2020

Another suicide by a Christian, Mariam w/o Tariq Masih, a mother of 3 children in Francisabad, Gujranwala, Punjab-Pakistan. Family was starving due to coronavirus lockdown. Food distributed by Government & NGO’s is denied saying “Islamic ZAKAT” money is prohibited for non muslims pic.twitter.com/Bq7ieiZbqD

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 18, 2020

These Hindus of Village Bewato, UC Posarko, Mithi, Tharparkar, Sindh Pakistan says that they have nothing to eat, they can’t work because of Corona lockdown. Rations distributed in neighborhood various times by Government and NGOs but they are ignored because they are Non-muslims pic.twitter.com/t3qEhM3fr9

— Rahat Austin (@johnaustin47) April 19, 2020

Sarvanand Kaul Premi

Sarvanand Kaul Premi

Early Life

Sarvanand Kaul Premi was born on 2nd November 1924 in Anantnag, Kashmir. He studied in Punjab University and graduated with the highest merit. Not only was he extremely well educated – he also took part in the Quit India movement as a social activist. For 8 years, his blood, sweat and tears went into the fight for an independent India.

Work

He wrote for newspapers, such as the Daily Khidmat. He ended up authoring ~24 books and many more articles & poems. They are mostly in Hindi, Urdu and of course, Kashmiri.

He was advised by other poets, including Zinda Koul and Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor. His work really painted a picture of the suffering of the Kashmiri people. He also translated the Bhagavad Gita into the Kashmiri language.

His work includes the life stories of the saint-poetess Mata Roopa Bhawani, a short biography of saint-poet Swami Mirza-Kakji, Kalami-Premi, Paymai-Premi, Rooda-jery, Oosh-ta-vosh, Mahjoor-t-Kashir, Russi Padshah Katha, Hamara Mahjoor & Kashmir ki Bettie.

Return to Kashmir

After working in Delhi, he returned to Kashmir Valley in 1954 to work for the Department of Education. Along with his work, he also taught poor children – irrespective of religious background – free of cost. This was a man who truly believed in the secular fabric of Kashmir.

Although Premi was born Kashmiri Pandit, he was a deeply secular and religious man. Everyday, he would read both the Bhagavad Gita as well as the Quran. He loved Kashmir’s religious diversity – creating homes for both Hindu, Muslim and other religious minorities alike.

Being the only Hindu family in Soaf Shali, this never bothered him. The distinction between Hindu and Muslim was non-existent to him; there was only unity, love & brotherhood between Kashmiris. Needless to say – this was a man who was extremely loved & incredibly respected

He did not flee; neither did his family

Despite thousands of Pandits fleeing Kashmir valley preceding 19th Jan 1990, the family of Sarwanand Kaul Premi remained.

“My students won’t let anyone harm us.”

he used to say. If only he were right.

On April 29 1990, 3 armed militants stormed Premi’s home. They ransacked all valuables and held the family members at gunpoint, after forcing the ladies to hand over their all their ornaments.

But they didn’t stop there. They also ransacked the library and destroyed rare manuscripts. While plundering, one militant shouted:

“Masha Allah, ye to Qurani Sharif he”.

Premi had kept one copy of it reverentially in the library for his study.

Only that day, Muslim neighbours had given assurance of their help for protection. Premi had declared that he had no plans of abandoning the village where he had fought for years together for the upliftment of the community and had not done any harm to anybody.

Premi was told to carry a suitcase containing all of the looted valuables. He was asked to come with the militants; they assured the women,

“Don’t worry, he will come back soon.”

Unable to watch his father go alone, Premi’s son, Vivender Kaul, went with him.

It was 9pm. The family waited the whole night for them to come back. By morning, there was still no sign of them.

A day later, the police found two bodies hanging from a tree. A nail had been hammered in the place of a tilak; eyes gouged out; broken limbs, full of cigarette burns. They had been also been shot. This was no one other that Premi and his son, Vivender.

An Excerpt from Rahul Pandita’s “Our Moon Has Blood Clots”

“This happened to a man who had kept a copy of the Quran, a freedom fighter and philanthropist. A scholar, social worker and poet. A man who worked voluntarily for months each in Muslim and Hindu schools after his retirement as a love for children of both the communities.”

For everyone asking for justice – not a single person has been arrested in this brutal murder. It’s been 30 years!

His son, Rajendra Koul Premi, continues his advocacy for reviving the Kashmiri language. The level of resilience the Kashmiri Pandits community exhibits is outstanding. He must be supported by the government → Away From Home, A Kashmiri Pandit Is Reviving His Language

“Their murders were part of a series of killings of prominent personalities from the minority Kashmiri Hindu community during the rise of the anti-India, pro-Pakistan Islamic militant movement in Kashmir.”

For all those who care about ‘human rights’

  • Who will answer the questions of his wife, his daughters, his son and other family members?
  • Why was a husband and father was killed?
  • Who will give back home in Kashmir?
  • Will the loss be ever compensated?

India made a bold, courageous move by abrogating Article 370. 2020 will be a year of progress – for Kashmir to revive its secular history, rich culture and for peace to prevail in the region.

Justice delayed is as good as justice denied. But I wish everyone – who suffered under the hands of terrorists – to get justice someday.

Source: Twitter

References:

  1. https://www.shehjar.com/blog/SPOTLIGHT—Pt–Sarwanand-Kaul-Premi87
  2. https://www.jammukashmirnow.com/Encyc/2020/1/18/30th-April-1990-Assassination-of-prominent-Kashmiri-Pandit-and-a-poet-Sarwanand-and-his-son.html
  3. https://ikashmir.net/atrocities/11.html
  4. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/j-k/sarvanand-premi-remembered-582719
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarwanand_Koul_Premi
Forced Conversions

Forced Conversions

Over the centuries native cultures and traditions have suffered tremendously from the missionary onslaughts on their practices. Most of the native traditions have lost their entire existence after sustained assaults from proselytizer forces. The forceful enforcement of their version of “One true God” on natives by the foreign missionary have resulted into many cultural genocides. Perhaps South Asia is one of the last major battle grounds between native traditions and missionary forces. Many missionary organization like Joshua project have choked out multi decade plans to convert entire region. Apparently, these are clear threats to the multi-cultural, multi religious and plurastic diversity of South Asia.

On the surface missionary operate under the principle of freedom of religion and demand right to spread their religion. This is entirely fine as long as they are following the law of the land. However, many times their activities cross the lawful boundary and results into downright sinister conduct.

For example, during their conversion efforts they denigrate native Gods and beliefs by calling them false Gods, evils. They lure native people with monetary and other benefits. They use fear of “Going to hell” if people do not covert. While doing so they are violating the rights of native people to worship and pray to God of their choice. Clearly these are not volunteer conversions allowed under the law by countries like India. They fall under the conversion by force, coercion or deceit.

One such incident was reported in Jharkhand, India where Christian missionaries insulted native tribal places of worship by stating that Satan lived in those places. The natives were infuriated after hearing such comments and asked missionaries to stop their activities. When missionaries did not, angry villagers confronted them and forced them to stop. They were held and handed over to police. Oftentimes, such incidents may turn violent, but fortunately this one did not. Villagers made sure that there was no heckling or any other form of physical violence.

This is not a one-off incident. Many similar incidents are reported across India, where evangelists engage with local population, disrespect their religious beliefs, and ask them to convert. Last year, similar incident happened in Palghar, Maharashtra, India, where locals confronted missionaries for similar reasons. It should be noted that when such incidents happen repeatedly, it creates enmity between people of different religions and causes unnecessary disturbances in society.

We must study these repeated incidents carefully and see the trend building up across the South Asia, especially India. Disrespecting native religions of a country, taking advantage of necessity of poor people, making fun of their Gods and beliefs, and then asking them to convert – is clearly violation of the very principles of mutual respect and harmony between all the religions. These actions abuse the freedom of religion allowed under the law. A timely action is needed to stop such unlawful and inciting activities, so that we can uphold the tolerance and respect for all religions.

Minorities — victims of Blasphemy

Minorities — victims of Blasphemy

For the past 30 years blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad has been punishable by death in Pakistan. But no-one has been executed.

There have been 1,549 known cases of the most serious charges – either blasphemy against Muhammad or desecration of the Koran – according to Pakistan’s Centre for Social Justice.

Mob Justice for Blasphemers

In blasphemy cases, 75 accused people have been murdered before their trials. Many were killed in police custody, or by mobs.

Religious identity of those accused (1987-2017) Source: Centre for Social Justice, Pakistan.

Mob injustice on Pakistanis Minorities

  • Christian Couple

In 2014, heinous crime was done in name of blasphemy in the small town of Kot Radha Kishan, (named after two Hindu gods) which is almost 30 miles south of the city of Lahore,Pakistan.

The beautiful Kot Radha Kishan town has lush flat green fields and after every half a mile or so, are the tall smoking chimneys of brick kilns in every direction. And, hundreds of thousands of bricks are stacked up in rows.

Shahzad and Shama Maseeh, a happily Christian couple who were accused of blasphemy worked in one of kilns but this couple were burned alive by a mob in 2014.

Rana Khalid, the local journalist summarizes the events in his report that led to the brutal killing of couple.

He points towards a small structure close to the brick kiln. “The couple were locked up in this room so they could be protected from the mob,” he says.

But hardliner local mosque cleric led and aggravate the mob angry and order the angry mob to climb on top of the roof. The mob broke their way in through the ceiling and dragged the couple out.

Rana Khalid stated “The couple were brutally beaten by clubs and bricks and dragged by the angry men of the village to the brick kiln and were thrown inside. Most horrific is that Shama was four months pregnant.”

Reason the couple were murdered is Blasphemy Law. The mob believed that Shahzad and Shama had deliberately burned several pages of the Koran, along with some rubbish”. Till date Shahzad’s family denied the fact saying that the couple were burning some of his father’s old documents.

  • Ahmadi Man

It’s not only Christians who bear the brunt of the country’s controversial law. It has also been used to persecute Pakistan’s Ahmadi Muslims. The community is regarded by the government as a non-Muslim religious minority. By law, Ahmadis cannot call their places of worship mosques or recite from the Koran or display their faith in public in any way.

Aslam Jameel (not his real name), an Ahmadi farmer, was working in his wheat fields in the south of Punjab in 2009, when he was approached by a couple of local villagers and told him to run away and save himself.

Aslam crime was that he had been accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad by a local imam and a mob was after him.

Aslam with his tears choked voice stated that “God Forbid, He had been alleged by the cleric that he prompted four Ahmadi boys to write the prophet’s name in a toilet,” says Aslam, his voice choked with tears.

He was in such distress that Aslam waited until after dark before sneaking out of his back door and making a run. After realizing that where he will run away and in-fact running away would probably land him in even more trouble, Aslam handed himself in at a local police station the next morning.

His case took almost two years is case to go to trial, and he spent six months in prison.

At final judgment Aslam with his flushed face mentioned that “The judge was under immense pressure” . “The judge showed great courage to dismiss his case due to lack of evidence despite the fact that the courtroom was full of clerics.”

Aslam has lost everything when he was in jail and found his house looted and his livestock stolen. Finally he sought asylum in Canada.

Aslam in grieving voice stated to BBC that “My family was threatened and harassed, my life and livelihood ruined, we had to abandon the village to save our lives.”

Another Ahmadi, Shakeel Wajid (not his real name), in trembling voice said that furious mobs gather during trials in courts which is very frightening for them and their families.

Also, the lower court judges are under intense pressure from religious extremists than the higher courts judges as these hardcore extremists, gather in large numbers during the hearings,”. Shakeel further explains. “The lower court judges have very poor security and have to look out for their own lives as well.”

After being found guilty under false pretext of blasphemy, Shakeel spent two years in three different high security prisons in Punjab.

Shakeel describes how blasphemy prisoners are kept in separate, high-security barracks, often with mentally ill prisoners. Blasphemy accused trials or prisoners are kept locked in their cells for their own safety and are often banned from eating with the other inmates as officials are afraid that other non-blasphemy serving criminals attempts to poison them.

After serving his prison term Shakeel believed that he was exceptionally lucky that he was able to get his freedom back. But more worrying to him was to get his name cleared of the allegation.

In Pakistan the label of blasphemer is much worse than the fear of death. It’s considered such a serious accusation that no one want to die with it. Every accused blasphemer wanted his name to be cleared so his family could survive with dignity in the society.

Not only lower income earning minorities are victims of Blasphemy Law but highly educated minorities class are also victim of blasphemy. One such example is of university professor from Rawalpindi. His crime was that one of his student didn’t agree with professor’s interpretation of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ and lodged a blasphemy complaint against him.

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