Date: 8/4/2005


IT IS PREPOSTEROUS THAT ONE BILLION HINDUS ARE LOOKING UP TO THE WHOLE WORLD FOR PROTECTION AND SAFETY, YET NONE IS DEMANDING THE HEAD OF THEIR OWN SUPREME COMMANDER CALLED ABDUL KALAM. /// ==============/// http://www.dailypioneer.com/indexn12.asp?main_variable=OPED&file_name=opd4%2Etxt&counter_img=4 The Pioneer, Aug 4, 2005 /// Difficulties of being Hindu /// Tarun Vijay /// Recently, a significant report on the status of Hindus in the Indian subcontinent was released in the precincts of Capitol Hill, Washington, by high profile Hindu American Foundation (HAF). It is amazing that Hindus have been facing threats to their lives and honour in Pakistan, Bangladesh and their own homeland, India. Yet, the media has so far ignored such assaults on them. /// It goes to the credit of American Hindus, well established in the high echelons of science, technology and medicine in the US, who decided to bring out a comprehensive report on the status of Hindus in the Indian subcontinent. They have formed HAF that took up the onerous task of collecting material from impeccable sources like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, etc. /// The US Department of State's annual reports on religious freedom and human rights as well as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom provided important data in the making of the report. According to the HAF board of directors, the report was prepared to document a humanitarian tragedy largely omitted by the human rights organisations. "With over 600 documented attacks of murder, rape and physical intimidation of Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India's State of Jammu & Kashmir last year alone, the ongoing atrocities against Hindus can no longer be ignored," said Mr Ramesh Rao, a member of the HAF executive council who contributed to the report. /// The report specifically denounces Bangladesh for a long-history of anti-Hindu atrocities that have recently spiked following the ascent of the Bangladeshi National Party-Jamat-e-Islami coalition. The decline of Hindus in Bangladesh, from 30 per cent of the total population in 1947 to less than 10 per cent today, is analysed in the report. The report alleges that the estimated loss of 20 million Bangladeshi Hindus is a consequence of their persecution, both overt and covert. /// The international community must demand the Government of Bangladesh to immediately investigate the ongoing religious cleansing within its borders, and empower minority and human rights commissions there. The HAF report also discusses the consequence of Pakistan and Al Qaeda-sponsored Islamist violence in Jammu & Kashmir, which has left thousands of Hindus and Muslims dead. Besides, the jihadi terrorism has forced more than 3,00,000 Kashmiri Pandits to leave the Valley. These Hindus are refugees in their own country, sheltered in temporary camps near Delhi and elsewhere. There are virtually no Hindus left in the Valley; they have all been driven out. /// Similarly, Pakistan is condemned for systematic state-sponsored religious discrimination against Hindus through elaborate anti-blasphemy laws, and for failing to investigate numerous reports of lakhs of Hindus being held as bonded labourer in slavery-like conditions. The report drew attention of two senior co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans - Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Republican Gary Ackerman. "The human rights violations that are occurring against Hindus must no longer be ignored without reprobation," said Mr Ros-Lehtinen. /// Hindus have a history of being peaceful, pluralistic and understanding of other faiths and peoples, yet minority Hindus have endured decades of pain and suffering without the attention of the world. Mr Ackerman stressed the fundamental nature of religious freedom and supported the concept of the annual report produced by HAF. The Hindu American Foundation has done a commendable work by compiling the 2004 Survey of Human Rights in defence of the rights of Hindus around the world to practice their religion without intimidation, and by shining a light on those who would take away their religious freedoms. /// The report documents serious violation of human rights against Hindus, and it will be worth looking at the stark facts presented therein. The human rights of Hindu citizens are consistently violated in three regions where Hindus constitute a minority: Bangladesh, Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir. Over 400 documented attacks have taken place on Bangladeshi Hindus between January and November 2004. These attacks include the day-to-day acts of murder, rape, kidnapping, temple destruction and physical intimidation. /// Hindus are labelled as 'enemies' of Bangladesh. The Enemy Property Order II of 1965, under which property belonging to Hindus was identified as enemy property, was renamed as Vested Property Act in 1972. Under the 1972 act, the Government of Bangladesh vested itself with the property of alleged enemies. Still in force, this Order of the President and the Enemy Vested Property Act has not been subjected to any judicial review. No wonder Hindus, who comprised nearly 30 per cent of Bangladesh's population in 1947, now constitute less than 10 per cent of the population. By 1991, 20 million Hindus were unaccounted or 'missing' according to expected population trends. /// Hindus constituted between 15 per cent and 24 per cent of Pakistan's population in 1947. But now they comprise less than 1.6 per cent of the population. Kidnapping of vulnerable Hindus is a well-established multi-million dollar industry. Pakistan officially discriminates against non-Muslims through a variety of laws and strictures. Specific discriminatory laws are the Hudood Ordinance of 1979 (offence of Zina, offence of Qazaf, execution of punishment of whipping ordinance), the Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order, Qisas, Diyat Ordinance (Section 306 C) of 1991. /// The 71-page report compiles media coverage and first-hand accounts of human rights violations perpetrated against Hindus because of their religious identity. Prior to its release on July 13, the report was delivered to the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, who endorsed it. But so far, none from India has bothered to take the report seriously or discuss it in human rights forums. Is that not a fact that none seems concerned about such gross inhuman acts, just because victims happen to be Hindus? /// ..........................000000000