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Mr Zardari, will you protect Hindus in Pakistan?

April 07, 2012 13:37 IST

Tarun Vijay, the BJP MP, would like to ask President Asif Ali Zardari: 'Is the ease available to a Pakistani Muslim to visit his places of faith in India also available to an Indian Hindu to visit his places of worship in Pakistan?'

The Zardari visit has created so much of noise on the television news channels and chatteratti addas in other media that this hype defies any logic.

Since he is coming to India on a private visit, and badly bruised at home, he is naturally seeking some solace. He must be welcomed and given all honours due to a foreign head of State. Period.

The expectations and hopes end there.

He is neither in control of his nation nor do we have a prime minister who can discuss business over a biryani session.

Since Asif Ali Zardari is not on a secular mission, I may like to ask him: Is the ease and smoothness available to a Pakistani Muslim to visit his places of faith in India, so well protected and kept in the best of shape, also available to an Indian Hindu to visit his places of worship in Pakistan?

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Pakistan as part of a high-level delegation led by our learned and suave Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs Meira Kumar. In spite of my request, made in advance, in India and even after reaching Pakistan, to visit at least one Hindu temple in Lahore, (I didn't mention Islamabad, as it has none), the Pakistani authorities could not show me even one temple.

When in Islamabad I asked Chaudhry Shujat Hussain, a veteran friend of India and president of the Pakistan Muslim League, about the renovation promised by the then Pakistan government on the famous Katas Raj temple, in the wake of Mr L K Advani's visit, he replied, 'We are trying to have the work started. I have written to the prime minister that at least he should now begin something there.'

This is the state of promises made by a government which seeks friendship with a Hindu majority India.

Forget Hafiz Saeed. The United States will take care of him. But can't we, the meek seekers of Most Favoured Nation status and believers in the principle of a trader that increased trade will also increase the chances of peace and enhance trust, ask Mr Zardari whether he can ensure that an innocent Sarabjeet Singh is released and sent back home?

The proof that Sarabjeet Singh is a victim of mistaken identity is accepted by all, even in Pakistan, but a hate-ridden atmosphere and weak governance has not enabled a bold decision.

The other issue that needs to be taken up during the biryani lunch with Mr Zardari is to make an appeal to save the honour, faith and life of Rinkel Kumari, a brave Hindu girl of Sindh who became another victim of mullahs who converted her against her will.

Her statement in the supreme court of Pakistan must be read by everyone who believes in basic human rights. She told the court that even at the cost of death, she would not abandon her Hindu Dharma.

A report by Jibran Khan, titled 'Hindu girl to Pak SC: Rather die than convert to Islam' (http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Hindu-girl-tells-Supreme-Court-she-would-rather-die-than-convert-to-Islam-24358.html) says that 'Seized by an influential Muslim, with the "political cover" of an elected official, 19-year-old Rinkel Kumari launches a desperate appeal to the courts.'

Each year there are 300 forced marriages and conversions in Pakistan.

'In Pakistan there is justice only for Muslims, justice is denied to Hindus. Kill me here, now, in court. But do not send me back to the Darul-Aman... kill me.' This is the desperate, heartbreaking, plea by Rinkel Kumari, who has entrusted her heartfelt appeal to the judges of the Pakistan supreme court in Islamabad.

Her story is similar to that of many other young women and girls belonging to religious minorities in Pakistan -- Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis -- kidnapped by extremist groups or individuals, who convert them by force and then marry them. And that is what the girl said on March 26, before the supreme court judges.

'The drama of Rinkel Kumari, a student of Mirpur Mathelo, a small village in Sindh, began the evening of February 24. A handful of men seized her and delivered her a few hours later to a wealthy Muslim scholar. The man then called her parents, warning them that their daughter "wants to convert to Islam".'

'Nand Lal, the girl's father, a teacher of an elementary school, accused Naveed Shah, an influential Muslim, of kidnapping his daughter. The man has the "political cover" provided by Mian Mittho, an elected National Assembly member...'

After identifying those responsible for his daughter's kidnapping, Nand Lal was compelled to leave the village. 'The father found refuge and welcome in a gurdwara in Lahore, in Punjab province, with the rest of his family.'

If America can take up the fight for Mukhtaran Mai and the Western media go all out to help her struggle against savage Mullahism, why can't India speak out for Rinkel Kumari, whose story is a spine-chilling account of Pakistan's hate? I know none from the Indian media will ever go to Rinkel Kumari's village or try to interview her and her unfortunate parents.

Atrocities on Hindus is not news for a Hindu-dominated media nor a politically correct issue for politicians who cross all limits to speak for the pain and suffering of Palestinians, Sri Lankan Tamils and Bosnian and Chechnya Muslims.

This is a strange situation in the Indian media and politics, where a Hindu is considered to be appreciated and sympathised with only when s/he is acting against Hindu sensitivities.

Maybe Mr Zardari would like to answer these questions while he is on a prayer mission in India.

Tarun Vijay, a member of the Rajya Sabha, is a national spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party. He is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs.

Tarun Vijay