27 temple, holy books desecration cases in half a year, moot told
KARACHI: Over 27 incidents of desecration of temples and holy books of religious minorities in the past six months have been causing insecurity among them, a conference on minority rights was informed on Wednesday.
At the programme, organised by South Asia Partnership, speakers said that Pakistan had signed International Convention on Civil and Political Rights in April 2008 and ratified it in June 2010 and the country was morally bound to make laws in its conformity but nothing much had been done.
PPP lawmaker Dr Lalchand said that terrorists, who were surely fewer in number, were destroying the temples and threatening the minority community members under a conspiracy so that they leave their country. He said that the evil designs of the extremists could be foiled with the help of saner elements, who are in large numbers, in society.
PTI lawmaker Lalchand Malhi said that forced conversions and forced marriages of young and minor Hindu community girls were major issues and the PTI was a working on it so that comprehensive legislation could be formulated and this serious issue was tackled properly. He said that need of the hour was to raise awareness among the masses so that the mindset of society could be changed.
A former lawmaker of the PPP Pitamber Shiwani said that though everybody was equal before the law, the minority community was not treated equally, or even fairly, and eventually most of the rights provided by the law were not enjoyed by non-Muslims.
Senior human rights activist Rochiram said that blasphemy laws were grossly misused but nobody wanted to talk about the issue. He demanded that before booking anyone in a blasphemy case, the matter be heard by a high court judge. Currently, he said, police officials under mob pressure registered blasphemy cases against anyone. Once the case was registered, the life of the suspect was put at risk, he said, adding that many people had been killed even in police stations and jails this way.
Ravi Dhawani and Kalpana Devi of the Hindu Panchayat suggested that syllabus be reviewed and one-sided material be struck out and tolerance be encouraged so that the next generations could live peacefully. He said that at least 27 incidents of temple destruction and burning of the holy books had been reported over the past six months.
Bashir Jan of the Awami National Party said that he was not supporting temple destruction in any way but if such incidents were counted it would emerge that a greater number of mosques and imambargahs had been attacked than the temples and churches put together. He said a small group of extremists was carrying out these attacks.
Referring to a point that many Hindus had been kidnapped for ransom, he said that a large number of Muslims — he named a few from his party — had also been kidnapped and ransom was being demanded. He said that Hindus and Muslims faced similar problems such as joblessness, inflation, load shedding and transport.
He said it was basically a war between economic classes and the minority ruling elite was following the principle of divide and rule to rule the majority comprising have-nots.
Barner Newton Barni demanded that liquor be banned as liquor was not allowed in Christianity or Hinduism yet its use was permitted to the religious minorities in the country.
Khialda Kohistani of PML(N), Karamat Ali, Dr Jaipal Chharia, M. Prakash, Irshad Junejo, Shehnaz Sheedi, Ms Noreen and others also spoke.