Newspaper Articles

Editorial – The Express Tribune: An endangered minority

Given the scope of problems facing the people of Balochistan, from a security establishment that abducts at will anyone it considers a threat to chronic underdevelopment, the plight of the Hindu community in the province has not been given the attention it deserves. Estimated to number about 200,000, Hindus in Balochistan have been the victims of a campaign of kidnappings and killings that is causing them to flee the province en masse.

The most recent incident involved the killing of a young Hindu trader, Ravi Kumar, after his family could not rustle up the one-million-rupee ransom that his kidnappers had demanded. The Hindu community is alive to the threat it faces and has taken out a protest in front of the Balochistan Assembly demanding protection from the government. It is now time that the authorities start to treat the problem with some amount of seriousness.

The most recent incident involved the killing of a young Hindu trader, Ravi Kumar, after his family could not rustle up the one-million-rupee ransom that his kidnappers had demanded. The Hindu community is alive to the threat it faces and has taken out a protest in front of the Balochistan Assembly demanding protection from the government. It is now time that the authorities start to treat the problem with some amount of seriousness.

A report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in September of this year, revealed that over 50 members of the Hindu community have been kidnapped for ransom in the last three years, many of whom have been killed if the money is not paid. There is no evidence that the provincial government has been complicit in this assault on Hindus but it is surely guilty of negligence.

According to the report, families of victims are fearful of reporting the crimes to the police because they have no confidence in the authorities and rather are fearful that it will only make it harder to recover their loved ones. So fraught is the situation that more than 100 Hindu families have migrated from Balochistan and are seeking refuge in other countries.

What makes the crimes against the Hindu community even more disturbing is that Balochistan has a rich Hindu heritage and, until recently, was thought to be a more hospitable environment for the community than anywhere else in the country.

Hindu pilgrims from India make the annual trek to the Makran coast for a four-day ritual at the Hinglaj Mata temple, where Hindus believe that the head of their goddess Sati had fallen, and these pilgrimages have been taking place for decades without incident. But as more Hindus flee Balochistan, the province’s Hindu heritage is sure to suffer from neglect and a lack of interest.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2011.