KARACHI - The Hindu community organisations and civil society have resolved that on the eve of 65th day of independence there is a need that government should respect the rights of minorities and their lives and properties should be protected as promised by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his speech on August 11, 1947 in which he clearly mentioned that political affairs shall be separated from religious matters.

In a letter addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari, the Hindu Panchiat handed over it to the members of parliamentary committee formed by the President.

Hindus representative organisations disclosed that in the last couple of months, more than two dozen minor children, traders, shopkeepers and businessmen were reportedly kidnapped for ransom and more than 700 families have reportedly migrated to India and Southeast Asian countries.

The three-member committee comprising Federal Minister Senator Maula Bux Chandio and Senator Hari Ram met with the representative organisations of Hindus.

The Hindu Panchiat, Young Hindu Association and other Hindu Community organisations and members of civil society and human rights organisations including Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), Sindh Human Rights Council (SHRC) and MRER in their letter to the President have appreciated his strict notice of the concerns and disbelief faced by the Hindus residing in Sindh and welcomed the move of the formation of a three-member committee in order to address the issues and grievances faced by the minority.

The letter of Hindus’ representative organisations, a copy of which is available with TheNation, called for an ethno-religious harmony and demanded that it was more than a committee that was required to protect. The community and civil society called for the establishment of committee as a move of displaying solidarity and looking forward to ensuring the best possible protection.

They said that unfortunately the level of threats that include non-safety of life and property, forced conversion of minor girls, kidnapping for ransom are too high and show disappointment on insufficient steps taken the federal and provincial governments to address the above mentioned threats and grievances faced by the minorities at large.

Community representatives and civil society further said that in the last couple of months, more than two dozen minor children, traders, shopkeepers and businessmen were reportedly kidnapped for ransom and over 700 families have reportedly migrated to India and Southeast Asian countries in a few months due to insecure and unsafe future of their families and businesses. Registration of fake cases and pressure of local influential people are a routine threat to them. Extortion is another crime happening and the Hindus are bound to pay this amount in different parts of the province.

Community representatives and civil society leaders appealed to the president that the Hindu community had done a lot to develop the socio-economic landscape of Sindh and Pakistan, and all their hopes are attached with the land and this hope should not be shattered and it is government’s fundamental responsibility to protect its citizens from all kinds of exploitation and discrimination.

Today, hundreds of thousands from this patriotic community feel alienated and feel like strangers in their homeland. No religion has allowed its followers to convert others by force. Then how can its followers indulge in such wrong conduct?

They said that if PPP is serious to resolve this issue, it first should ask their legislators to stop harassing Hindus and stop their forced conversion of Hindu girls. The PPP should promise to the community that in the coming elections, party tickets would not be issued to anti-minority and especially anti-Hindu people. And severe actions should be taken against those who are directly involved in the crimes against Hindu community.

Community representatives and civil society leaders’ showed concern over unfair trial of Rinkle Kumari in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

It was resolved that as per the spirit of 18th Amendment, evacuate property trusts should be immediately handed over to the respective provincial governments and all the historic and religious sites and places of Hindu community should be protected like other religious places.

They said decades of religious extremism; collapse of judiciary and law enforcement agencies; commercialisation of political parties in the country especially in Sindh has created an environment where various religious, gender, and ethnic minority groups are thrown under serious vulnerability.