Hindus, a minority in Pakistan and Bangladesh, are facing violence, according to members of the community staying as refugees in Delhi’s Yamuna Pusta and Kapasheda areas. They have questioned the silence of human rights activists on the persistent humanitarian crisis in their home countries.
Geeta, who came from Pakistan and lives as a refugee in the Kapasheda area, recalled how her husband was killed and her house torched. “One evening, several men came to the mohalla (locality) where we used to live in Pakistan. They started abusing us in the name of religion and beat up the family members, including me, with sticks. They set my house on fire and this claimed the life of my husband,” Geeta said.
Geeta added: “Neither police nor any human rights activist helped me or my community. Instead, we were tortured for approaching human rights activists and the police. The entire Hindu community is facing violence in Pakistan.”
Manoj, who also came from Pakistan and now lives as a refugee in the Kapasheda area, told The Sunday Guardian: “I watch on TV that every day, one or the other human rights group globally is protesting against violence in the name of religion, but no one is speaking for the Hindu community which is also facing violence. We miss our country. Life as a refugee in this camp is miserable, but we are forced to live here because in our home country, being a Hindu is kind of a crime. We were beaten, tortured and forced to leave our own country,” said Manoj.
The situation of Hindus is no better in Bangladesh. Richa Kumari, a 45-year-old Hindu woman who had fled seven years ago from Bangladesh, said: “One day, a group of men entered all Hindu residences and attacked us. First, they snatched our phones and then all the men in the area were tied and beaten up brutally. They raped women and looted their jewellery. We approached human rights groups. They came and assured us of justice, but nothing happened since then,” Richa told The Sunday Guardian.
Pradeep Sharma, who runs a school for children of Hindu refugees in the Kapasheda area, told The Sunday Guardian: “Human rights activists and agencies have been speaking against violence everywhere. The only blind spot has been the plight, or rather the genocide, of Hindus in neighbouring countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh.”
“The vibrant and ever watchful civil society in India has turned a blind eye to this human tragedy. This is astonishing given that many activists are vigilant about caste violence perpetrated against the traditionally disadvantaged classes and minorities, as they should be, but the cause of Hindus in India’s backyard is being ignored,” Sharma added.
According to a survey report of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) published in 2016, when Pakistan was created in 1947, Hindus constituted about 15% of the population of West Pakistan (current Pakistan). By 1998, it became 1.6%, a decline of about 90% in about 50 years. Subsequently, the population of Hindus declined further to 1% and is now only half per cent. The genocide of Hindus is not limited to Pakistan. According to the 2016 UNCHR report, by 1971, when Bangladesh was born out of East Pakistan, Hindus were a fifth of Bangladesh’s total population, but only 6% Hindus remain now.Rana Dasgupta, secretary, Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad of Bangladesh, a human rights advocacy group, told The Sunday Guardian: “From 1975 onwards, religious minorities, mainly Hindus, have been subjected to discriminatory property laws, restrictions on religious freedom and violence perpetrated by both state and non-state agencies. There had been three times more incidents of violence against minority communities in the first three months of 2017 than in all of 2016.”
However, Pramod Shukla*, an activist, denied the allegation that human rights groups are silent about violence against the Hindu minority in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
* This is to clarify that in an earlier version of the report, Pramod Shukla was referred to as the “campaign head of Amnesty India” as that was what he claimed himself to be. However, Amnesty International India contacted us to say that Pramod Shukla is not one of their office bearers and is not connected with them at all.