THE HINDU MINDSET PROBLEM
But, in all fairness, the suffering of the Sindhi Hindus is not to be blamed only on the chauvinistic mindset that has institutionalized in the state machinery.
The Hindus are a divided community because of caste. There are 2.5- to 2.7-million Hindus in Sindh. Of this, approximately 2- to 2.2-million are classified "lower" or "scheduled" caste.
All the three ladies (Chandervati, Nela and Madhuri) interviewed in this report are from scheduled-caste backgrounds.
Scheduled-caste Hindus work mainly as agricultural labourers. Unsurprisingly, they are poor and largely illiterate. Therefore, these Hindus are more vulnerable to kidnapping and forced conversion than higher-caste Hindus.
This does not mean higher-caste Hindus are not targeted as well. But, as explained earlier, lower-caste Hindus are easier targets.
The upper-caste are either self-employed as small-to-medium-sized business owners or in employment as white-collar workers, including professionals.
The sad part of the Hindu way of life in Pakistan is that the upper-caste do not associate themselves with their scheduled-caste co-religionists.
Therefore, this community is divided (or even fragmented), which makes it tough for them to speak as a single voice.
First, and foremost, the fact that the upper-caste do not help their scheduled-caste co-religionists weakens the latter, increasing their vulnerability to abuse and exploitation by the dominant community of the country.
The writer will illustrate this with a recent example:
A severe drought hit the Tharparkar region in Sindh in 2012. This is a poverty-stricken, dry area where agriculture is totally dependent on rain. At least half the population here is Hindu, almost entirely scheduled caste.
The wider Hindu community of Sindh did not even contribute a single rupee to the welfare of the inhabitants in this area.
In contrast, the welfare arm of hard line extremist Muslim organization Jamaat Ud Dawa (JuD), stepped in to provide relief. They dug more than 700 wells in the area. The better-off Hindus were not seen anywhere.
The JuD is headed by Hafeez Saaed, one of the most wanted persons in India and USA, because it is believed he masterminded the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008. The Government of Pakistan has provided Hafeez with freedom to move unhindered within Pakistan .
Of course, the JuD has more financial firepower than any Hindu body -- it is an open secret oil-rich Gulf states finance extremist organizations in Pakistan.
But the above example illustrates that, without help and support of higher-income and higher-educated echelons of Hindu society, scheduled-caste Hindus have little chance of uplifting themselves.
The Muslims were aiding the Hindus because they saw this as an opportunity of winning their respect. And, as a result, this will attract converts. The fundamentalists are also strengthening their presence in places where Hindu populations are substantial. This inevitably widens the vulnerability of Hindu women to kidnappings and so on.
The scheduled-caste Hindus are
also weak because they lack representation in the nation's legislative bodies.
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