Dalits hold rally over ‘forced conversion’, other woes in Pakistan


KARACHI: An alliance of Dalits in Pakistan on Thursday took out a rally from the Karachi Press Club to the Sindh Assembly building to highlight a host of issues, ranging from alleged forced conversion to the suspension of the Thar Express, being faced by the community.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, from different segments of the scheduled caste Hindus like Kolhi, Bheel, Meghwar, Oad and Bagri, participating in the rally under a banner of the Pakistan Darawer Ittehad’ also staged a sit-in outside the provincial legislature.

The protesters carried banners inscribing with slogans like ‘Why minority girls are seen as sex slaves by radicals’, ‘No one stands for minority communities’ and ‘We want protection’.

Shiva Kutchi, Narain Das Jaipal, Sardar Khemchand Bheel, Nirmal Kumar Meghwar, Parkho Mal Bheel, Dr Amreshi Kutchi, Mansangh Thakur, Narain Das Lakhani, Molchand Parmar, Bhimar Lal Karnani and others, leading the rally, said that forced conversion was a ‘serious issue’ in Sindh but for the last eight years, a draft law to this effect had been pending legislation before the Sindh Assembly.

The leaders accused the government and political parties of taking no serious steps to address the issue of “forced” conversion of underage Hindu girls seriously.

They warned that if their demands pertaining to the kidnapping-cum-conversion of Hindu girls and others were not met, they would be compelled to stage a sit-in outside Chief Minister House and Bilawal House.

The protesters also distributed a 15-point charter of demands at the rally. It claimed that Hindu girls were being kidnapped and forcibly converted and married against which a law must be enacted.

“The child marriage restraining law should be implemented,” they stressed, and demanded that scheduled caste Hindus should be given representation in the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies as majority of Hindus belonged to these castes.

Thar Express should be immediately revived so that Hindus could perform their pilgrimage and scheduled caste quota should be implemented, the charter of demands read.

‘Illegal occupation of Hindus’ lands, temples, plots and other places should be ended,” was another point.

The protesters also said that they had ‘reservations’ over the ongoing digital census as the poor Hindus belonging to the scheduled castes were not being counted properly and their concerns were not being addressed.__Dawn.com