‘Pakistani Hindus are, will remain loyal to country’

Human Rights activists Kapil Dev working through social media

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Human Rights activist Kapil Dev’s name shot to fame when he posted the story and picture of an 80-year old Chacha Gokal Das of Gothki on his Facebook page and drew the attention of public as well as the authorities to injustice done in the name of religion. ‘Crime’ of the poor Chacha Gokal Das was that he was eating something outside his house in the holy month of Ramazan.
A local police constable could not digest ‘disgrace to Islam’ and subjected the old man to physical torture. Kapil Dev who himself hails from Sindh (Mithi) using social media as his tool rallied support for Gokal Das and launched a public campaign against the policeman’s act.
Not only the said police constable was arrested, attention was also paid to Kapil Dev’s activism through social media and a number of TV channels invited him to their shows show and thus his message went across: Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had not dreamt of a Pakistan where bigotry and extremism will reign and non-Muslims will face it hard to live in peaceful coexistence with their Muslim brothers and sisters.
Talking to Pakistan Observer during an interview, Kapil Dev said social media was turning into a very effective tool to generate awareness in masses towards injustice and cruel practices. We only need to use it properly, said he. Giving example of Gokal Das story, Kapil said immediately after posting Chacha’s story on Facebook, he received a call from the Police Officer of Gothki who not only tendered his apology but also assured justice would be done.
“There were hundreds of likes and messages and expressions of solidarity not only from Hindus and non-Muslim Pakistanis but also from an overwhelming number Muslims who denounced act of torture on an old man by police. This is quite reassuring,” he said.
The fact that the incident took place in Sindh is all the more painful, he said as Sindh is a land of peace, love and co-existence. A large number of non-Muslims mostly Hindus live in interior of Sindh. Sufis of Sindh—Bhitai, Qalandar, Sachal, Sami and others— preached love for all and hate for none. The land of Sindh belongs to Hindus as much as it belongs to the Muslims, he said.
“We are proud that our forefathers remained loyal to Sindh even in 1947 and refused to leave it.” In Mithi Hindus make almost half of the population and you will be surprised to learn that in Tharparkar the local Muslims in reverence and regard of their Hindu friends don’t eat beef, he said.
“You will not find a beef shop in Mithi even the entire Tharparkar.” Similarly, Hindus in our area take out Moharram procession to remember the sacrifices of the family of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) during Ashura, he said adding this is an ideal example of tolerance and harmony between the followers of two faiths.
However, things are changing now he regretted referring to some recent incidents of intolerance towards religious minorities in Sindh. Satish Kumar, a 15-year-old boy from Mirpur Mathelo, was recently shot dead and another boy was shot injured in a reported incident of blasphemy. There are reports of forcible conversion of Hindu girls which is quite disturbing.
Reportedly there is a local influential person behind forcible conversion of Hindus and cause of current unrest in the district. The government should take serious steps against such provocative incidents against peaceful Hindu community, he said. He also referred to a report that annually around 5,000 Hindus are leaving Sindh for India, which again should be a matter of concern for federal government in general and the provincial government in particular.
August is historic month, he said, it not only reminds us of our independence it also draws attention towards Quaid’s 11th August speech to the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. He had given guiding principles for our constitution in that speech and stressed equal rights for minorities.
Kapil Dev believes despite isolated incidents of intolerance, common man has no problem with followers of different fait. “The day is not far when Pakistan would truly represent the ideals of its founder in letter and spirit,” he said wishing every Pakistani Happy Independence.

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