Pakistan: 250 Hindus convert to Islam in its notorious town

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Around 250 Hindus converted to Islam on Saturday in Chohar Jamali area in Sajjawal, Thatta, Pakistan.

The ceremony was organised by Muslim businessman Abdul Aziz Memon and has the presence of clerics and powerful politicians of this area. Women too have been converted while construction of mosque and madrassa was also announced.

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Since these Hindus are from impoverished background hence food, clothes and money were also given.

Why the need to convert?

Often people ask this. Let’s consider:

In April this year, Gharo town of Thatta made international headlines when Hindu God idols were smashed and thrown into a sewer.

Forced conversion and economic discrimination are rampant in the region as it is ruled by Pakistan People’s Party which has turned a blind eye to these atrocities.

Economic discrimination against Hindus is rampant in Pakistan as the current case of Purkho Mal Gehlot shows.

Taking to Twitter, the man wondered why he, after working for 15 years, was not given any money while another man made money in lakhs.

Forced disappearances and rape of Hindu boys has seldom made any headlines in Pakistan.

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Why poor Hindus convert in Pakistan?

A UN report for 2014-15 titled “Multidimensional Poverty in Pakistan” reveals the extent of poverty in the rural areas of Sindh where maximum Hindus of Pakistan live. 75.5% population of rural Sindh is poor.

In Sindh’s Umarkot district, where half of the population is Hindu, 84.7% people lived under the poverty line.

In 2012-13, the figure stood at 80.7% and in 2010-11 75.9%. In Thatta, 78.5% people live in poverty while the rate was 76.5% in 2012-13.

Not only are the Hindus poor, but they are marginalized to an extent that if anything happens to them it rarely even gets the media limelight. The Muslim feudal structure places them at the lowest.

Many Hindu laborers who suffer under Muslim landlords are given the choice of converting to Islam in lieu of going debt-free and some extra clothes and cash. Some are given National Identification Cards, aid, and some are given a piece of land but here too discrimination is there. For example, a Bheel Hindu convert is likely to get some paltry sum only and may have restrictions imposed on himself.

In 2010 also, 57 Hindus were forced to convert by their employer as his sales dropped after Muslims started boycotting his eatable items as they were prepared by Hindus. Since the impoverished Hindus had no other way to earn and needed to keep the job to survive, hence they converted.

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In 2012, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), released a report titled ‘Perils of Faith’ where it was highlighted that Pakistani Muslims indulged in kidnapping underage Hindu girls below 15 years of age and then they are married off to Muslim men after claiming that the girl is of legal marriageable age. Most of these girls came from extremely poor backgrounds and hence, conversion to Islam means a little ‘more time’ for these girls.

In this picture below is Jalal Meghwar, the father of Hindu boy Mohan Meghwar, a student of Mehran University, who is missing for several months. There has been no attempt made to recover the Hindu boy while the father has made it a business to protest silently against this ill-treatment of the children of minorities.

Capture

Mohan Meghwar was from the Jamshoro area in Sindh and was a first-year student of Chemical Engineering in the Mehran Engineering University. Jalal is a mere laborer but his son has allegedly been abducted by members of local police for being a little too bold.

Earlier, Pakistani Hindus were on streets protesting against an attack on Hindu Widow’s Hospital in Khipro. This attack was led by a ruling party PPP’s local leader:

Due to religious and economic discrimination, many Hindus have migrated to India but those who convert to Islam may not get refuge in the future as India has made it clear that only ‘persecuted’ minorities who fulfill its criteria are welcome in the country. Which takes us to the big question, will the Hindus survive in Pakistan?

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