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Religious apartheid: Hindu Pakistani soldier denied ‘shahadat’ because of his religion

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By Rukma Singh

Ashok Kumar, the Pakistani Hindu soldier who sacrificed his life for the Pakistan army (while fighting in Waziristan in 2013) was recently awarded Tamgha-i-Shujaat on March 23, 2015.

But his name was suffixed with “late” and not “Shaheed” (martyr) as used for Muslim soldiers who sacrifice their lives. The fact that Ashok died while in Pakistan is a clear evidence of his loyalty towards the country.

But why was he not called a martyr just like the Muslim soldiers?

It was because of his religious identity, the fact that he was a Hindu. But the question is, does his religion make his life any less valuable than the others?

If he didn’t think twice before dying for a Muslim nation, why did Pakistan hesitate to consider him equal to a Muslim soldier?

It is unfortunate that his life wasn’t important enough because of the age old strained relationship between India and Pakistan; Hindus and Muslims.

Discrimination against Pakistani Hindus

Reports suggest that most of the 2 million Hindus in Pakistan are compelled to pay regular sums, as a type of ransom, to extortionists and local leaders in exchange for the physical security of their families and themselves. Furthermore, they’re even required to have some kind of contact with a Muslim, as a sort of protection, so as to be able to efficiently carry out any sort of business.

Instances of discrimination between Non-Muslims in Pakistan aren’t new. The biggest evidence of the unfavorable treatment meted out to Hindus is evident from the very fact that the numbers of Hindus in Pakistan have gone down from 15-24% during the time of partition in 1947 to 1.6% presently. Thus, religious apartheid happens to be a very prevalent practice.

Religious apartheid practices 

Hindus were not allowed to join the armed forces until before 2000. This is in contrast with the country’s Christian community whose members have been serving in the army for much longer with many of them having been on senior postings.

This goes to show that the discrimination isn’t against any ‘outsider’ but specifically, and much more strongly for the Hindus.

The practice of Dhimmi

Hindu minorities living under the influence of the Taliban in Swat, Pakistan, were forced to wear red headgear such as turbans as a symbol of dhimmi. Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination.

Using school textbooks to incite hatred

A very important evidence of the religious apartheid happens to be the ‘alleged Hindu hatred’ taught in Pakistani school. It is a part of the textbook syllabus for students.

A report recently published by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad said:

“Four primary themes that emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks…are that Pakistan is for Muslims alone; Islamiat is to be forcibly taught to all the students, whatever their faith, including compulsory reading of Qu’ran; the ideology of Pakistan (sic) is to be internalised as faith, and hate be created against Hindus and India; and students are to be urged to take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.”

Further, “Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus..”

The Islamisation of textbooks began under the US-backed rule of army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who courted Islamists to support his rule. Fearing rebellion from Pakistan’s right wing polity, the State does not take up this issue so as to be on the safer side and avoid risks.

”Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security,” said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

”The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world,” read one passage from social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country’s most populated.

This inciting of hatred results in children growing up with closed minds and flawed mindsets. Teaching young kids twisted information to suit one’s political stance is an act of insensitivity and an effort to induce violent.

Unending instances of discrimination

The plight doesn’t end here.

Sandhya Das

According to a BBC Hindi report, on May 29th, 2015, Sandhya Das, a Pakistani national, was declined admission in the Peshawar University because she was a Hindu. Das had graduated from the same university.

Peshawar University

Sandhya’s family desperately needed money for the treatment of her father, who was suffering from an acute heart ailment. Even though she had the required qualifications, she was denied the job as she wasn’t a Muslim. The report also quoted human rights  activist Rakshanda Naaz as saying that the condition of Hindus living in Khyber Pakhtun area  is really bad.

Vandalism induced by religious intolerance

In July 2010, around 60 members of the minority Hindus in Karachi were attacked and ethnically cleansed following an incident when a Hindu youth drank from a water tap near an Islamic mosque.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan came out with a report in 2010 stating that at least 25 Hindu girls are abducted in Pakistan every month.

In January 2014, in an attack on a temple, the guard was gunned down.

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Guru Gorakhnath temple at Gorgathri, Peshawar

In 2012, Unidentified men stormed the 160 years old Hindu temple of Guru Gorakhnath and Lord Shiva in PeshawarThe Idols of Shiva and Nath Gurus were destroyed, holy books are set on fire, human excreta were thrown and so on.

According to reports, the attackers burnt images and took away idols from the temple in the Gorghathri area, and fled the scene after the incident

Haroon Sarblal, a representative of the Hindu community, condemned the incident as ‘unacceptable’. He called upon the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to arrest the vandals and provide security guards for the temple.

“If the government wants the Hindu community to remain calm, it should arrest the vandals and punish them accordingly,” Sarblal told The News Agencies.

At a two-day workshop conducted by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pushpa Kumari broke down into tears as she narrated the incident when a body of a 17-year-old girl was taken out from a graveyard because she was buried in a Muslim graveyard.

Carrying a bunch of newspapers dated last week, she said, “There are five cases of sexual harassment of Hindu women in Sindh, including the gang rape of a teenager.”

With each passing day, evidences of religious apartheid are increasing. Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers. Lack of cooperation from police and administration adds insult to the injury.

With such vandalism and discrimination dotting the landscape of Pakistan, the Hindus are left looking for a home.

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  • Indian

    What else can be expect from terrorist nation “Pakistan”????

  • Gurkhaxxx

    Foolish Racist Paki Muslims!!!!

  • Hassan M Farooqi

    Shaheed is a Arabic word meaning “One who testified”. When a Muslim gives his life in the name of Allah, he is called a Shaheed, meaning he gave his life as a testimony to Allah.

    The word of respect for deceased non Muslims is “Aan-jahani”, meaning person belonging to the other world.

    The English word “Late” is a secular word, and is used instead of Shaheed or Aanjahani when avoidance of religious connotation is sought, and therefore used for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Translating the Islamic term Shaheed as the secular term martyr is inaccurate, and translating “Aan-Jahani” as late is also incorrect.

    You may continue with your ignorance, but my post is for only those who are curious about linguistic truth.

    • ramki

      We Indians call “Shaheed Bhagat Singh”.

  • Indian

    What else can be expect from terrorist nation “Pakistan”????

  • Gurkhaxxx

    Foolish Racist Paki Muslims!!!!

  • Hassan M Farooqi

    Shaheed is a Arabic word meaning “One who testified”. When a Muslim gives his life in the name of Allah, he is called a Shaheed, meaning he gave his life as a testimony to Allah.

    The word of respect for deceased non Muslims is “Aan-jahani”, meaning person belonging to the other world.

    The English word “Late” is a secular word, and is used instead of Shaheed or Aanjahani when avoidance of religious connotation is sought, and therefore used for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

    Translating the Islamic term Shaheed as the secular term martyr is inaccurate, and translating “Aan-Jahani” as late is also incorrect.

    You may continue with your ignorance, but my post is for only those who are curious about linguistic truth.

    • ramki

      We Indians call “Shaheed Bhagat Singh”.

Next Story

Brutal media, the beloved minority, and the tortured majority

The media has changed its sphere of projecting people who are national and the anti-national elements are tragically boasted for their deeds

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This glaring aberration in the world of media is visible as clearly as stars in the darkness of the night.
This glaring aberration in the world of media is visible as clearly as stars in the darkness of the night. Wikimedia Commons

I’m afraid, it’s quite clear that the ferocious jaws of the media and the fierce claws of the minority are well up to the annihilation of the whole civilization of the Indian subcontinent. Wake up, wake up from your slumber! The “secularism” is a sharp-edged dagger handed over to you to cut your own root.

– SALIL GEWALI, Shillong

If something that really makes one look at certain reputed media with the eyes of suspicion then it is for their blatant play of double standards. The double standard itself is disgusting. The integrity of the service is greatly compromised here. When such unethical trick is played at the cost of humanity then the consequences could be very disastrous. This could steadily push the society into the sea of frustration. Thereafter the social anarchy.

This glaring aberration in the world of media is visible as clearly as stars in the darkness of the night. Those who are suffering from a varying degree of mental glaucoma may fail to see it.

Have we not witnessed that media fraternity often sets off the alarm bells when the victims of the crime instances are from a “particular community” but it maintains a “brutal silence” when the perpetrators are those it considers minority or Muslim? Yes, the particular minority are eternally beloved, so they are blameless. Even the traitorous terror-makers from the minority are unblemished to such media folks and a major group of columnists associated with the media. That’s why such elite media and its associates zealously stand up to sympathise with terror-sponsored stone-palters in Kashmir, a bunch of secessionists in the academia and so on and so forth.

Also Read: ‘Don’t Sensationalize or Glamorize Suicide’ Asserts WHO ; Says Media Can Play a Significant Role in Preventing Suicides

No wonder if one who sings ‘Vande Mataram’ then he certainly stands to lose the support base of such media, no matter how influential he is, no matter how dedicated and truthful he is. So, I humbly advise any active citizens, particularly those who want to serve the country, not to utter this jingoistic phrase when alone. Better not at all. On the other hand, if you roar – ‘Bharat ke tukde tukde’ or ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, which are heard more aggressively and more frequently these days, then all defensive forces become hyperactive to safeguard you. These subversive activities by any brats will be soon celebrated and interpreted as a part of the fundamental right, that is ‘freedom of expression’. Have we not noticed in Kashmir where CRPF or other security personnel receiving humiliating bashings, the video clips of which often go around on WhatsApp, from the local? And in case the bold security persons retaliate then those elites from their armchairs thunder that the democracy in the country is under threat? The majority are attacking the minority, blah, blah, blah..!

Elite media and its associates zealously stand up to sympathise with terror-sponsored stone-palters in Kashmir.
Elite media and its associates zealously stand up to sympathise with terror-sponsored stone-palters in Kashmir. Wikimedia Commons

I believe everyone knows how certain so-called student leaders often openly incite their unruly crowds at JNU and other academic institutes. But when the questions of sedition are raised against them then the media comes forward to denounce the government. Mr Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Shehla Rashid Shora, Mr Jignesh Mewani… are lovable sweeties to those intellectuals because their treacherous adventures make them more cheery and lustier. Each anti-nationalist “scream” by these jerks never get wasted. It is systematically used to degrade the nation, demean the culture and denigrated the religion.

Till some years back college ruffians were nonentities but now they are held all of a sudden as leaders and opinion makers. These dangerous creatures are applauded and discreetly advised how best to go about. Many national political leaders as well jump to embrace and defend these troublemakers. But, on the other hand, the same warmth, attachment, and love are not at all showered upon any patriots by any mainstream media. So, citizens who want to sincerely endeavour to bring peace in the country are not at all given any platform, nor encouraged. Rather, the nation’s lovers are intensely scoffed at. They are non-existent, nay subhuman, to the pseudo-secularists. Of course, those people, often branded as ‘bhakts’, are aptly dragged only to paint them with bad colours.

Also Read: Fuelling propaganda: Has the modern media lost its sense of objectivity?

This Republic day brought a great grief to many. A 22 years old student – Chandan Gupta of Kasganj, UP, was heartlessly murdered. His crime is his participation in the ‘tiranga yatra’ singing Vande Mataram. No noticeable outcry of condemnation from any influential elites. Again, Ankit Saxena, a photographer who loved a Muslim girl, was attacked, and girl’s relatives silt his throat in cold blood. Most of the media carried the news as “honour” killing as if it was in some way justified. What would have happened if the same heinous crime was perpetrated by the majority? It would have been Dadri-2. In another monstrous incident, a BJP party worker Mr Santosh was stabbed to death in Karnataka. The killing of patriots is too frequent in Kerala. But no ‘award wapsi gang’ gets ever freaked out at the news …!

Such brutal attacks upon the majority are a very regular phenomenon. But what is “very less known” to the whole general public is that over 95% of such gruesome attacks, and also various kinds of sexual atrocities upon females of the majority, are “not at all reported”. Only those which can’t be suppressed get published. But they usually die down well before the dead bodies begin to rot. Well, no scream of criticism, no alarm of “intolerance” is ever raised by any over-conscious citizens when the people from the majority are killed. No media panel discussion ever called in otherwise cases. Nor even the condemnation of the “onslaught on the humanity” ever heard.

Kanhaiya-Kumar was responsible for openly inciting unruly crowds at JNU.
Kanhaiya-Kumar was responsible for openly inciting unruly crowds at JNU. Wikimedia Commons

Well, had there not been a double standard in reporting the attacks on the “humanity”, if ever the ‘freedom of expression’ is truly valued, such barbaric perpetrators, no matter which community they are from, would not have at all reared their ugly heads. Is it not probable in near future that those beloved villains might “double-cross” and pose continuous threats that would toll the death nail for the double-tongued journalism, apart from the majority! The prelude to that situation is double clear now than ever before.

Also Read: Macaulay’s harrowing effect on Indian media

Lastly, please note, none of the horrendous crimes by the particular community ever become a “Dadri” — the stench of which is still being felt by our depraved columnists. Is this not a part of the grandiose scheme? The situation is dangerously ominous! I’m afraid, it’s quite clear that the ferocious jaws of the media and the fierce claws of the minority are well up to the annihilation of the whole civilisation of the Indian subcontinent. Wake up, wake up from your slumber! The “secularism” is a sharp-edged dagger handed over to you to cut your own root. This is a bitter truth nobody can refute!