A group of Harijans held a demonstration outside the press club in Larkana on Monday in protest against encroachment of land reserved for the community’s graveyard. They alleged that Hindus did not allow them to use their graveyard for final rituals and demanded the government of Sindh take strict action against the encroachers and immediately give them possession of the six acres initially allotted to their community for their burial rights.

In terms of protecting the rights of minorities, Pakistan has fared poorly but this issue is even more sensitive because of the potential for inter communal conflict. Within the Hindu religion, the caste system remains ingrained as ever and it is the state’s responsibility to lend a sensitive ear to those who voice their concerns regardless of social strata or in this case, caste. Yet, the aid must come subtly and swiftly, so as to not offend anyone’s religious sentiments.

The Harijan community of Pakistan deserves equal rights as any other Hindu in the country. If the Hindus are underrepresented, then the Harijan community is even more so. Even after so many decades of technological and social development in India, the Harijan community continues to face severe discrimination in rural areas, with no hopes of a substantial change in their status as the ‘shunned’ people. Pakistan should not allow the same percipience to continue on its soil. The Hindu community here is well aware of the daily discrimination it faces at the hands of the community as well as the state. Passing along the same ignorance and breach of basic rights should not sit well. The woes of the Harijan community must be addressed at the earliest so they can cremate their dead according to their religious customs with the freedom they deserve.