Hundreds of Pakistani Hindus, poor and victims of bonded labour, convert to Islam: Report

The conversion ceremony in Badin that took place in June was not a coercive one like the ones that have earlier been reported.

Updated: Wed, 05 Aug 2020 04:57 PM IST

New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The minority Hindu Community in Pakistan continues to be at the receiving end of atrocious incidents leading up to their religious conversion, even during the Coronavirus pandemic. The latest reported incident of conversion is from the month of June when dozens of Dalit Hindu families were converted to Islam in the Badin district of Sindh province, which borders with Gujarat’s Kutch at its south.

According to a New York Times report, the mass ceremony was the latest in line of growing number of attempts by various religious organisations to continue the conversions of people into Islam.
However, the conversion ceremony in Badin that took place in June was not a coercive one like the ones that have earlier been reported. The report says it to be a path taken by those Hindus who are seeking to improve their social status and financial standing. It adds that various organisations promise the members of minority community financial assistance in lieu of conversion, and since not many well-to-do Hindus are left in Pakistan anymore, people get converted to get the help from the people of their newly found religion. Others do it under the promise of being freed from bonded labour being put into exploitation in the impoverished hinterland of Sindh. Though Bonded labour was abolished in Pakistan in 1992, in the far fetched areas of Sindh, the practice of exploitation goes on unscathed.

Hindus are converting to ‘stave off violence, hunger’: Expert

Farahnaz Ispahani, a former Pakistani lawmaker, and currently a senior fellow at Washington-based Religious Freedom Institute, recalls the ravaging floods of 2010 in Sindh and said that a lot happened after the natural tragedy left thousands homeless. “Hindus were not allowed to sit with Muslims at soup kitchens,” she told NYT. “And when government aid was handed out, Hindus received less of it than their Muslim,” Ispahani added.
“The dehumanization of minorities coupled with these very scary times we are living in — a weak economy and now the pandemic — we may see a raft of people converting to Islam to stave off violence or hunger or just to live to see another day,” Farahnaz Ispahani points out further.


Conversion: A consistent process in Sindh

Before the conversion ceremony of June in Badin, in the month of May, the videos of Hindu community protesting the forced conversions in Matiari district of Sindh, 131 km away from Badin, went viral. The videos which went viral show some of the protesters from minority community shouting that they will prefer to die than leave their religion and embrace Islam. In another video, a Hindu woman can be seen pleading to release her abducted son.

Before that, last year, Pakistani daily Dawn had reported a local SHO in Badin saying he helped a group of Hindus to convert into Islam, and vowed to “continue efforts to preach Islam”. According to official estimates, a total of 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where in recent years, the exodus to India has spiked manifold due to forcible conversion, disappearance and subsequent killings.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta

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