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Friday, March 7, 2008

A letter from Pakistan on Pakistani Hindus

'The only place I call home'

7 Mar 2008, 1654 hrs

This letter was written by a Times of India.com reader who chooses to be called ‘Asa’ in response to a recent article (“ Allah’s will and US strategy ”) on our website by our regular columnist Tarun Vijay. The lucidly written letter, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Hindus living in Pakistan, is reproduced in its entirety below.

'The only place I call home' 

Asa 

Karachi bears the symptoms of Mumbai. It has the Arabian Sea where the hordes go to breathe because the ceiling is so high, hopeful youth walk briskly on the roads to seize the day and of course fail, beautiful women travel in the quiet isolation of the backseat with a man they know as driver, eternal Parsis fear that they are all dying. And, incredibly, Shiva, Lakshmi and Vishnu have encroached on prime real estate. Outside one such temple in the posh Clifton neighbourhood, on a distant Monday four years ago, stood a man in pathan suit. His name was Jayanti Ratna. He was wielding a stick and surveying the large crowds that were trying to enter the temple. "Jai Shiv Shankar," he kept screaming. Occasionally, he stopped some people by placing his stick horizontally around their chests. "Muslims are not allowed," he said to them. He stopped me too. "Are you a Hindu," he said, "Muslims are not allowed inside." That was the first time during the two month tour of Pakistan that my religion was asked. And it was outside a Hindu temple. He was shown the passport. His eyes softened. "Christians, too, are not allowed. But then you are an Indian." It was inevitable that he would let me pass. Wasn't it dangerous for a man to stand in the heart of Karachi, outside a temple, and ask Muslims to get lost? "Not at all," he said, "I was born here. I belong here. I'll exercise my right to serve my faith." The next day, outside the Lakshmi Narayan temple, a small austere shrine that stood at the edge of a creek, four Pakistani girls were stopped at the gate by an ageless Gujarati woman called Bani. "Muslims aren't allowed," Bani told them angrily. "We just want to walk around and look," Rumi, one of the girls said. "Then go to the zoo," Bani told them. The girls were not outraged at all. They pleaded in between giggles. "We just want to pray," one of them said. From inside the temple emerged, Hirakumari, a young woman who was related in a complicated way to Bani. She shouted at the girls, "Go pray to your god. You eat cows, make fun of our gods, ask if our gods don't feel cold being naked..." But Hirakumari would eventually tell me that deep down she loved the Muslims. "They will feed us for the rest of our lives, if it comes to that. Pakistan is the only place I call home but how can we let them inside the temple?" Pakistan's Hindus number somewhere between 2.5 million (an official estimate which is suspect) and 5 million (the figure granted by Hindu politician Kishinchand Parwani). Over 95 percent of them live in the Sindh province, chiefly impoverished farmers and labourers. Some of them are visibly rich though, and they are allowed to be rich without peril. Like fashion designer Deepak Perwani who had a Ganesha tattooed on his right arm, and whose red dyed hair often perplexed urchins. His analysis of the Indo-Pak divide was, "Indians can't cut a salwar to save their lives and Pakistanis can't cut a churidar ." Ten years ago, when he wanted to open a store in Karachi, his friends asked him not to flaunt his name on the door. He didn't listen. "There's been no trouble, not a single incident outside my shop," he said. Since Partition, the only time the Hindus of Karachi felt insecure was in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition. But Perwani, once Pakistan's cultural ambassador to China, did have a problem. The Sindhi community was small and it was not easy for him to find a suitable girl. "The girl has to be imported," he said, "since I am doing too well here to be exported." His mother Renu, an amicable and efficient woman said, "People in India don't want their daughters to live in Pakistan. It's a mindset." As she considered the various options for her son, her eyes turned a bit severe. "I will never accept a Muslim girl in my house." The simple aggression of Pakistan's Hindus was just one of the many things that confused the Indians who toured that country in the merciless summer of 2004. The visible life on the streets of a nation that was almost always governed by the military and of another that glorified democracy, was the same. The roads and the slums looked the same. Even there, lazy cops stood in street corners without poise. People drove like fools. Pedestrians ran across the road and giggled at the end of the effort. This place was home. Our plight was the same. Our hereditary memory was common. True, pork was hard to find here and beef easily available. Every hotel room, no matter how cheap, had a bidet. There were no pubs, and emasculated newspapers said, "Pakistan and India" instead of "India and Pakistan". But we had expected much grander things to separate the two nations. After an unscathed life in Pakistan, a Hindu in Karachi becomes dust in a crematorium that lies beside a Muslim graveyard. The crematorium has a room called the 'library' where there are no books. Just bundles of ashes of men and women who have become memories. These ashes will stay here, sometimes for years, until the relatives are granted visas to let them immerse the remains in Ganga.

8 comments:

bharatvanshi said...

You can call me a fan of your column, but I am terribly confused. This letter seems to be diamterically opposed to everything I ever heard or knew of Pakistani Hindus. I am just a little bit sceptical that Hindus there can openly advertise their businesses and shoo Muslims from their mandirs, in a country where the Hindu population has been meticulously eradicated and purged. Please help me and other such sceptics to believe this. Trust me, we would love to believe it, but it contradicts everything we know in this area.

Assertive Nationalist said...

Namaste Tarunji...I am a swayamsevak working in a IT company, Bangalore. I am a big fan of your articles and would like to interact with you on how to master the skill of writing articles. Hope you will help me in this regard. U can mail me @ (dheeraj.sunkavalli@gmail.com).
DHEERAJ

}{^^ HimaLayaNSwaStikA ^^}{ said...

I really have very few things which I hate in this world. Current Indian Congress party is one of them. The party who has outsourced its presidency to some Italian mama is really hurting India. Some of you might be really angry with me for calling Sonia Maino like this but even after all these years I still think that she doesn’t consider herself as an Indian. I don’t have anything against Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi as they were born in India. But somehow Sonia Maino doesn’t strike a chord with my Indian heart. As she descended upon the Indian political scene in 1998, it might have been of a little good for warring congress lords but not for my mother India.
I have problem with Sonia Maino and there are many reasons behind it. First and most important one, she refused to take Indian citizenship till Sanjay Gandhi was alive on Indian political scene. I don’t have any affection with Gandhi clan but it took our current Congress Party president and super prime minister more than 10 years to take citizenship of India. Secondly she took her pilot husband Rajiv Gandhi out of India at the time of 1971 war with Pakistan. Officially no Indian pilot is allowed to go abroad in case of war with other country as pilots are needed for doing various jobs in war time. Thirdly, one of her best friend the infamous arms dealer Ottavio Quattorochi looted Indian tax payer’s money in Bofors gun case. She is still protecting that criminal by using CBI as her personal service guards in front of all of us. The irritation list against her is so long that I will get a heart attack if I write it all here. Now we have her crowned prince Rahul Gandhi, who is being projected as savior of India by sycophant congress and its allied media.
I would like to ask just one question what did Rahul do to have such privilege except being born to Rajiv and Sonia Maino? Rahul Gandhi is of approximately 40 years of age and still he is on the tour to discover India. Or what did Rajiv Gandhi do to become prime minister of India except being son of Indira Gandhi? The whole country is being offered to them on the plate. But anyways its their Karma and I don’t have much of the problem with that. I can just comment on my views although they may not be important for anyone. You can say why I am not in politics to change things? Well you might have guessed it right till now that I am not a Gandhi to have it all. I am not even related to any politician, I am just a common man in India and being common is worse thing in India to enter into politics. Who created this culture of sycophancy in India? Your guess is right again its this Nehru-Gandhi clan which promoted it and still ruling India as if they have some divine rights. They never promoted inter party democracy in this democratic India.
Believe me this Nehru-Gandhi clan isnt doing any favor to India by just being here but they see this as opportunity to preside over fortunes of a billion plus Indian. I have many problems with Jawaharlal Nehru. Some people believe that he was the architect of this modern India and India’s stability as democracy owes much to him but I don’t agree with this statement as at that time there were many big stalwarts in India who were better suited for the job, specially Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and after him Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Dr Rajendra Prasad and many others. What Nehru gave to India is what any one else would have given because others were not any less competent than him. In fact many of the burning problems in India today owes their origin entirely to Mr Nehru like Kashmir problem, the Tibetan issue, the north east militancy, border dispute with china, corrupt burocracy and non accountability of the public servants. I will just say little about all these problems and how Nehru was responsible for all this as every thing is available for everyone to read.
First and foremost the Kashmir dispute, there were more than 560 princely states in India at the time of independence. Sardar Patel took up the responsibility to merge all of them except one into independent India. Your guess is right again the only state he wasn’t given responsibility was Jammu and Kashmir and you know why? Because Jawaharlal Nehru was a kashmiri pandit and he took that in his hand. As you all Indians are seeing it now he messed it all up in such a fashion that even after 60 years we are not able to solve it. Nehru thought of himself so highly that he was out of his mind and practicality on crucial issues. He thought of himself as leader of international stature who was more interested in solving world problems than taking care of his newly built burning home. Instead of allowing Indian army to finish its job in taking over whole J&K from Pakistani attack, he took advice of Mountbatten and took the matter to United Nations. United Nations declared cease fire in 1948 and now you have got J&K controlled by China, Pakistan and India. He didn’t learn his lesson and messed up in case of Tibet. China attacked and annexed Tibet in 1950, which made Dalai Lama to flee from there and take shelter in India. He happily declared that he doesn’t have any problem with this and signed treaty with communist china in the name of Panchsheel principle in 1954. He had socialism in his mind and completely failed to see expansionist design of China. China attacked and humiliated India in 1962, and what Nehru and his than defense minister were doing? They were busy in proclaiming that India doesn’t even need an army and started using military equipment manufacturing units to make tractors. China still claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, its crushing unarmed Tibet monks with bullets, its controlling India’s Aksai Chin in J&K, it has Mansarover area under its control which was traditionally part and parcel of Indian ethos for millennia, it supports Pakistan with missiles and nukes to threaten India and what our great Congress leaders headed by Sonia Maino are doing? They are busy in saving their government which survives on oxygen from pro China traitor communist parties in India.
Nehru didn’t concentrate his development policies on North East India and we have militancy there which is basically arising out of resentment of local population because of non development. Nehru didn’t concentrate his mind on primary education for all Indians. That non availability of quality primary education for all citizens is root cause of many fundamental problems we face in India today. He some what succeeded in higher education by setting up IITs and IIMs even they were also not enough for such a big population. He didn’t change the corrupt burocracy and local administration set up by British to govern uncivilized India and what we got after independence was just replacement of Gora Sahibs by Brown Sahibs. The government which was Mai Baap before independence remained the same and instead of serving people, it made people serve it same as before independence.
People say that Indira and Rajiv Gandhi died for the country but I beg to differ as they died because they wanted to gain some political mileage by playing with people’s emotion. They died because of their own karma. I just praise Indira Gandhi for breaking up Pakistan in 1971 but who agreed on having Pakistan on both sides of India? It was her father and Mahatma Gandhi against the wishes of Sardar Patel agreed on communal division of India. Congress which ruled for almost 50 years out of 60 years of independent India has to take blame for all the mess in India today and their present actions doesn’t seem good enough to even think about that they have got a change in their mentality. They are still doing the same divide and rule policy which is one of the many British legacies they have picked up. Instead of justice for all they are again indulging in fanning caste and community differences by allocating budget resources on the basis of religions. I would just like to ask you all, is this party good enough to even stand for a fight in local panchayat election?
Whatever good which still left in India is because the Government wasn’t aware of the actual situation like in Information technology otherwise you might be seeing Congress led government issuing dictates how much software a Infosys, Wipro or TCS can produce. Congress let India ruined and ignorant so that these Gandhis with their small handful sycophants can loot India for so long. Whosoever is saying that Sonia Maino has sacrificed anything for my motherland is doing a great mistake. Just think which thing is better: To rule over a billion plus population like an empress in modern times or to live a not so well known life in some small Italian Villa in Italy? I know Sonia Maino isnt that much of a fool to leave India and live in Italy, otherwise who will take care of the future of Prince Rahul Gandhi the prime minister in waiting? But that thing is only in the interest of the Nehru Gandhi family so what about rest of India? Rest of India has progressed despite so many hurdles and made its presence felt everywhere they have gone. I still wonder why it took a Dr Hargobinda Khurana , Dr Chandrashekhar or even a L N Mittal to leave India for winning Nobel Prize or creating the biggest steel industry on earth? The problem lies with the rulers who haven’t given ample opportunity to its citizen to do that progress from India. Why Indian migrant communities are so law abiding and successful everywhere else than India? Why a nation of over a billion people still havent been able to get a single Olympic gold medal in individual events? Why even after 60 years of independence people are dying out of hunger? Why after that so many villages don’t have electricity, hospital and clean drinking water? Why once world guru in learning havent been able to provide good primary education to its citizen? Why we still have corrupt officials ruling over the country? Why the honest and law abiding Indians always have to face problem while rich and crooked just get their ways? Why judiciaries take such a long time to declare verdicts? Why we don’t follow much of the traffic rules and see absence of accountability every where? There are many burning questions but most of the answers point their fingers at Congress party and its 50 years of rule on India.
So what is the solution? Solution lies in realization of all young Indians to stand up against the injustice and create a society where every Indian can dream becoming a participant in shaping its destiny. All educated people should come out and vote rather than going on picnic on voting days. You get the government you deserve. We have to see beyond the obvious reasons of caste, creed, religion and community if we want our India to make progress. Congress with communist parties has fooled Indians for so long but now this is young India’s time to show how they can change things for better. I can smell the change.. and I hope that day is not that far when we will again have what we have lost… May god direct our intellect in right direction.
www.himalayanswastika.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Good save the Hindus from these Bollywood friendly Hindu-nationalists.

Anonymous said...

Sir, How can one buy more book, Saffron Surge in the US? Thanks

SHARATH A said...

SIR
I like all your posts as you seem to be near to RSS views.CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHEN YOUR COLUMN APPEARS IN TIMES?

And actually i too write in kannada and want to be a writer to a paper.can you please help me out?

thanking you,
sharath

[sharath.a1990@gmail.com}

Anonymous said...

Pak digs up 300-yr-old Krishna temple for ‘relics’ by Amir Mir (Monday, July 07, 2008)

ISLAMABAD: The desecration of Hindu temples goes on unchecked in Pakistan without any reprimand from the government.

On July 2, the courtyard of a 300-year-old ancient Krishna temple situated in the Shorkot town in Punjab was excavated on the orders of a senior government official, who wanted to dig out precious relics. They carried out the excavation without taking permission from the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), which looks after Hindu places of worship in Pakistan.

Case details reveal that Zubair Khurshid Bhatti the district coordination officer (DCO), Jhang district, forcibly entered the temple, broke all the ETPB seals and began digging the temple’s courtyard, which they claimed would unearth relics and statues of ancient gods and some holy books.

While Bhatti claims that locals asked him to excavate the temple’s courtyard, no local confirmed this. On the contrary, when Aman Das, a Hindu from the same vicinity’s main bazaar area was asked about the episode, he expressed feelings of deep hurt and mistrust. “We do not have much say even about issues related to the sanctity of our religion and places of worship,” he said.

“But when the authorities would not think of producing a relic by evacuating any ancient Muslim mosque in Pakistan, then why us?” asked Aman.

According to sources, the assistant administrator of the ETPB requested Bhatti time and again to stop the digging at the temple’s courtyard, but Bhatti snubbed him. Bhatti finally gave up after he could not find any relic. He then instructed his staff to fill up the 10-feet pit in the courtyard.

“This is sheer goonism. The senior government official misused his authority to dig out the temple courtyard. He did not pay heed to the Hindu locals who stood helpless in front of his authority,” expressed Shanti Das, Aman’s wife.

“Being a Hindu in a Muslim dominated society does not expel our right to go to temples or to protect them against demolition,” she added.

Prior to this incident, some statues of the Hindu gods were stolen from the Katas Raj temple, an incident which deeply hurt the sentiments of the Hindu minority in Pakistan.

amir.mir1969@gmail.com

karthika said...

I am just a little bit sceptical that Hindus there can openly advertise their businesses and shoo Muslims from their mandirs,

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Villu stills,songs