Persecution of minorities and women in South Asia

Weekly Blitz
VOLUME – 4, ISSUE – 42, DHAKA,
OCTOBER 14, 2009
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Right before the end of British rule in Indian sub-continent in 1947, several riot amongst various religious groups, mainly amongst Muslims and Hindus took place in India and Pakistan [the then West and East Pakistan], causing severe rise of religious hatred amongst the people in the region. Subsequently, massive Muslim persecution in Gujrat, Sikh Persecution in Punjab by the Indian government, persecution of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Persecution of Christians in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well persecution of religious minorities in almost all the countries in South Asia gradually generated deep rooted hatred amongst the people belonging to various religious beliefs. The Partition of India was the partition of British India that led to the creation, on August 14, 1947 and August 15, 1947, respectively, of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan [later Islamic Republic of Pakistan and People's Republic of Bangladesh] and the Union of India [later Republic of India]. The partition of India included the geographical division of the Bengal province of British India into East Pakistan and West Bengal [India], and the similar partition of the Punjab province into West Punjab [later Punjab - Pakistan and Islamabad Capital Territory] and East Punjab [later Punjab – India, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh], and also the division of other assets, including the British Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service and other administrative services, the Indian railways, and the central treasury. The partition was promulgated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Indian Empire. In the aftermath of Partition, the princely states of India, which had been left by the Indian Independence Act 1947 to choose whether to accede to India or Pakistan or to remain outside them, were all incorporated into one or other of the new dominions. The question of the choice to be made in this connection by Jammu and Kashmir led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and other wars and conflicts between India and Pakistan. Stable democratic nation like India could not free itself of curse of communalism even more than fifty years after independence. If anything it has been getting worse year after year. There has been not a single year in post-independence period, which has been free of communal violence though number of incidents may vary. The year 2002 has been one of the worst years in this matter right from the beginning as the Gujarat carnage began in the very beginning of the year. In the year 2002 the first reported riot took place in Kozhikode [Calicut], Kerala on 3rd January. In the clashes between two communities [Hindus and Muslims] five persons were killed. The clashes occurred on the question of eve teasing. The whole region came in the grip of violence. More than twenty persons were injured including five women. Properties worth millions of rupees were destroyed. A heavy police bandobast was made to bring the situation under control. Kerala is generally thought to be free of communal violence. But occasionally it also experiences such frenzy and bout of communal violence. However, it is generally brought under control as the Kerala government usually does not allow things to go out of had.

Gujarat was next to come under intense bout of communal carnage. It was of the kind, which India had never experienced accept at the time of partition. The communal carnage in Gujarat shook whole world. It was difficult to believe such intense communal frenzy could be incited by the BJP for its political gains. More than 2000 people were killed most cruelly in this carnage according to very reliable sources though the Government admits only about 1000 dead.

The Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP], the Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] gave a call for bandh [general strike] on 28th February and violent incidents started from the morning of 28th February, particularly in Ahmedabad. And before the sun set on 28th February more than 100 persons were killed in Ahmedabad alone. Most ghastly incidents took place in a place called Naroda Patia where more than 80 persons were burnt alive including women and children and number of women were raped in full gaze of public. The other ghastly incident took place in Gulbarg Society, Chamanpura where about 40 persons were burnt alive including a former member of parliament named Ahsan Jafri from Congress Party.

What is worse the Chief Mister Narendra Modi justified such frenzy and described it as reaction to action in Godhra. And all this happened with full complicity of the police and bureaucracy. The honest officers who did not allow carnage in their areas were instantly transferred by the Narendra Modi Government.

Some ministers who led the mobs have been named in case lodged after the incident. Many mosques and mausoleums were demolished and ground was leveled. Some accounts maintain about 700 such religious structures were brought down or severely damaged. Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mehsana and Panchmahal districts were the worst affected districts covering entire north and central Gujarat. There have been various estimates of the properties destroyed but generally it is maintained properties worth more than US$ 1.5 billion were looted or burnt. The business lost due to closures and migration of labour is several times this figure. Hundreds of Muslim families were totally uprooted. The carnage continued for more than five months.

The next riot took place in Kaithal, at Indian state of Haryana. Though the cause of the violence on disturbances on 28th February is not clear but it seems to be related to Gujarat incidents. According to The Hindustan Times report Shiv Sena, Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP] and Bajrang Dal mobs pulled down a mosque and caused extensive damage to two others. They damaged at least four mausoleums and enforced a complete bandh. Prohibitory orders were later clamped down on the town.

During the general strike Maharashtra called by the Shiv Sena, Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP] and Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] on 1st March 2002 to protest the setting ablaze of coach of the Sabarmati Express on 27th February 2002 in Godhra a violent mob went on rampage in Murbad 80 kilometer from Mumbai. Fortunately Murbad was the only town affected during the call for bandh by the Sangh Parivar.

During the general strike in Murbad in India the Bajrang Dal alliance began looting and burning Muslims shops. It also looted the houses of two prosperous grain merchants and set fire to a jeep [cross-country vehicle] belonging to a transporter. The general strike was total and all shops were closed. The mob was also determined to attack the families of some of the well to do Muslim shopkeepers. But they fled minutes before the attack and saved themselves.

The Police claimed that it fired 13 rounds in the air but the Minorities Commission said that it did not come across anyone who could corroborate the police claim. The Police claimed that they had arrested 32 people including the local Bajrang Dal leaders and charged them with attempted murder, arson and lootings. The Muslims are a microscopic minority in Morbad and are afraid of giving any details of damage to the madrasa and are praising the role of the police, according to the Minorities Commission.

On 17th March 2002 communal incidents took place in Loharu in Bhivani district of Haryana in India. Loharu was once under a Muslim ruler. There is thus Muslim population in this town. A mob of three hundred incited by the rumour of cow slaughter attacked two mosques and at least 15 shops and houses belonging to the minority community. The police had to fire in the air when the mob could not be controlled by tear gas charges.

When the people belonging to the majority community heard that a cow has been taken for slaughter in one of the mosques, it attacked and set fire to this mosque and shops nearby. According to a media reports quoting the police sources, a mob of 300 Shiv Sainiks [Soldiers of Shiva] set fire at another mosque near the railway station and many shops in the adjacent area.

Next incidents of communal violence in India took place in three places in Rajasthan in which three persons were killed on 25th March 2002 on the occasion of Muharram. The immediate provocation was the holding of poornahuti yagnas [a Hindu religious ritual] and kirtans [Hindu religious songs] at various temples on the route of Muharram processions.

Curfew had to be clamped in the town of Gangapur, 80 kilo meters from Sawai Madhopur, in central Rajasthan where 3 people were killed and 15 injured in police firing. According to the police, violence broke out when activists of the Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP], Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and Bajrang Dal sat inside an ancient Hanumanji temple for religious rituals. They began to chant provocative anti-Muslim slogans when the Muharram procession came closer to the temple.

Persecution of Sikhs:

Operation Blue Star, which continued during 3–6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists who were amassing weapons in the Golden Temple [Holy Temple of Sikhs] in Amritsar [India]. The operation was launched in response to a deterioration of law and order in the Indian state of Punjab.

The operation was carried out by Indian army troops with tanks and armoured vehicles. Militarily successful, the operation aroused immense controversy, and the government’s justification for the timing and style of the attack are still under debate. Operation Bluestar was included in the Top 10 Political Disgraces by India Today magazine.

Official reports put the number of deaths among the Indian army at 83 and the number of civilian deaths at 492, though independent estimates ran much higher.

The impact of the military assault, its aftermath and the increased tensions led to assaults on members of the Sikh community within India and uproar amongst Sikhs worldwide. In India, many Sikhs resigned from armed and civil administrative office and returned their government awards.

Indira Gandhi first asked Lieutenant General S. K. Sinha, then Vice-Chief of Indian Army and who was to succeed as the Army chief, to prepare a position paper for assault on the Golden Temple. Lieutenant General Sinha advised against any such move, given the sacrilegious outlook from pious Sikhs. He suggested the government adopt an alternative solution. A controversial decision was made to replace him with General Arun Vaidya as the Chief of the Indian army. General Vaidya was assisted by Lieutenant General K. Sunderjee as Vice-Chief. Operation Blue Star was eventually planned and controlled by them.

On 3 June 1984, a 36-hour curfew was imposed on the state of Punjab with all methods of communication and public travel suspended. Electricity supplies were also interrupted, creating a total blackout and cutting off the state from the rest of India and the world. Complete censorship was placed on all types of media.

The Indian Army stormed the Golden Temple on the night of 5 June under the command of Major General Kuldip Singh Brar. The forces had full control of the Golden Temple by the morning of 7 June, 1984. Bhindranwale, Lieutenant General Shahbeg Singh and several other militant leaders were killed in the operation along with a large number of followers and civilians. The armed forces also suffered many casualties. Operation Blue Star coincided with a Sikh annual festival. Pilgrims, including the elderly and children, were trapped inside the temple when the operation began and many were reported as wounded and killed as a result.

Sikh reaction in India began with the decade old persecution of Sikhs, mostly by the Hindu majorities as well as state-partonized terror on them. Indian government enforced total media blackout and stopped local and international media from covering this tragic blood shed of the decade. Before the attack by army a media blackout was imposed in Punjab. The Times reporter Michael Hamlyn reported that journalists were picked up from their hotels at 5 a.m. in a military bus, taken to the adjoining border of the state of Haryana and “were abandoned there”.

Brahma Chellaney, who was then the South Asia correspondent of the Associated Press, was the only foreign reporter who managed to stay on in Amritsar despite the media blackout. His dispatches, filed by telex, provided the first non-governmental news reports on the bloody operation in Amritsar. His first dispatch, front-paged by the New York Times, The Times of London and The Guardian, reported a death toll about twice of what authorities had admitted. According to the dispatch, about 780 militants and civilians and 400 troops had perished in fierce gunbattles. The high casualty rates among security forces were attributed to “the presence of such sophisticated weapons as medium machine guns and rockets in the terrorists’ arsenal.”

Chellaney also reported that “several” suspected Sikh militants had been shot with their hands tied. The dispatch, after its first paragraph reference to “several” such deaths, specified later that “eight to 10” men had been shot in that fashion. In that dispatch, Mr. Chellaney interviewed a doctor who said he was picked up by the army and forced to conduct postmortems despite the fact he had never done any postmortem examination before. The number of causalities reported by Brahma Chellaney were far more than government reports, and the Indian government, which disputed his casualty figures accused him of inflammatory reporting. The Associated Press stood by the reports and figures, the accuracy of which was also “supported by Indian and other press accounts” according to Associated Press; and reports in The Times and The New York Times.

Whole of Punjab and especially the Golden Temple Complex was turned into a murderous mouse trap from where people could neither escape nor could they seek succor of any kind. The way the dead bodies were disposed off adds to the suspicions regarding the number and nature of the casualties. The bodies of the victims of military operation in Punjab were unceremoniously destroyed without any attempt to identify them and hand them over to their relatives. The government, after the operation, on the other hand, did every thing in its power to cover up the excesses of the army action. The most disturbing thing about the entire operation was that a whole mass of men, women, and children were ordered to be killed merely on the suspicion that some terrorists were operating from the Golden Temple and other Sikh temples in India.

Similar accusations of high handedness on part of Indian Army and allegations of human rights violation by security forces in Operation Blue Star and subsequent military operations in Punjab has been leveled by Justice V.M. Tarkunde, Mary Anne Weaver, Ram Narayan Kumar, a noted human rights lawyer, Joyce Pettigrew, a Swedish Anthropologist and many others.

Muslim women in India:

On the completion of five decades of independence, women in Muslim communities face considerable challenges as citizens of India and as members of India’s largest minority. Their poor socio-economic status reflects a lack of social opportunity which, though not a feature exclusive to Muslim women, is exacerbated by their marginal status within an overall context of social disadvantage for most Indian women. This point was highlighted in a study of 39 districts in 1981 [where the population of Muslims ranged from 20 per cent to 95 per cent - which could be considered a fairly representative sample of the status of Muslims in India]. In the study, the literacy rate of Muslim women was found to be 21.91 per cent – lower than even the poor national average of 24.82 per cent.

According to government reports, Muslim women are among the poorest, educationally disenfranchised, economically vulnerable, politically marginalized group in the country. In 1983, the Gopal Singh Committee instituted by the government, declared Muslims as a “backward” community in India. A central feature of this “backwardness” is their exceedingly poor socio-economic status, particularly of Muslim women. Most Muslim women remain “invisible” workers in the informal economy. The Muslim share in public employment is less than 3 per cent. Within this picture of marginalization, it is a predictable certainty that the corresponding figures for Muslim women are further skewed towards the bottom. A lack of information on Muslim women contributes to the reinforcement of cultural stereotypes, serving to obfuscate their life experiences and struggles. Consequently, the notion that Muslim women’s status in India is attributable to certain intrinsic, immutable “Islamic” features or that their social status derives solely from Muslim laws, is widely prevalent.

On the other hand, the appropriation of Muslim women’s issues by a vocal and politically influential male Muslim constituency for political purposes poses a considerable challenge to Muslim women’s legal empowerment. This was highlighted during the Shah Bano case and the passage of the Muslim Women’s Bill in 1986.

Furthermore, it is crucial for Muslims “women and men” to debate among themselves the possible reasons and remedies for their poor status as citizens of India.

The political ascendence of the Hindu right-wing and its inherent link between politics and religion has threatened India’s secular fabric. The rise of communal violence in the last two decades has undermined secular law and violated constitutional ideals of religious non-discrimination, protection of human rights, implementation of social justice and the equality of all Indian citizens as well as principles of international human rights law. Right-wing illiberalism, communal prejudice and intolerance of diversity bodes ill for all Indian women; in the case of Muslim women it heightens physical and economic insecurity, limits possibilities of renegotiating their status with Muslim men and precipitates Muslim militancy.

The lack of social opportunities for Muslim women is a crucial issue needing urgent action. An improvement in literacy rates would directly influence Muslim women’s socio-economic and political status as citizens of India.

The acknowledgement of the universality of women’s rights by the international community is relevant to the debate on Islam and women’s rights, particularly with reference to women’s rights in the family. The formation of forums and associations of Muslim men and women’s initiatives in the 1990s is an important step towards facilitating public debate on Muslim women’s issues. Muslim women and men must collaborate with individuals and organizations who are committed to the realization of women’s human rights. The alliance of Muslim women with the women’s movement in India, as well as movements for secularism, democracy and human rights, are crucial for forging a common front against forces opposed to women’s self-determination.

Christian persecution in India:

When Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in the US in September [2000], the National Association of Asian Christians [NAAC] in the US paid US$ 50,000 to the New York Times to publish “an Open Letter to the Honorable Atal Bihari Vajpayee, prime minister of India.”

While “warmly welcoming the PM,” The NAAC expressed deep concern about the persecution of Christians in India by extremist [meaning Hindu] groups mentioning as examples “the priest, missionaries and church workers who have been murdered,” the nuns “raped,” and the potential enacting of conversion laws, which would make “genuine” conversions illegal. The letter concluded by saying “that Christians in India today live in fear.”

Many Hindu religious leaders feel Christianity is a real threat today for Indian democracy and ‘integrity’.

Rape of a nun and brutality on Churches:

Case – 1: A nun was raped in 2008 in the Indian city of Mumbai. Spanish born sister Antolina Martinez de Maranon of the Daughters of Charity, who works in Mumbai with leprosy, tuberculosis and AIDS patients, said in her letter that the violence began in Orissa, “but has now spread to many more states, even to the state we call the Rome of India, Bangalore, where our provincial house is located.”

“Many churches have been profaned there, Masses have even been disrupted, priests and others have been beaten, many things have been destroyed, and they are sowing panic.”

“Nobody is doing anything to stop the radicals from sowing panic and hatred in the minds of simple people and fear and insecurity in the minds of Christians,” Sister Martinez said.

“The Indian bishops want to draw attention to this all over the world, in order to get the international community to react,” she continued. “Otherwise nothing will be done, even though the central government has warned the extremists. Nevertheless, we are dealing here with the opposition party, which has many economic resources and many members trained to hate Christians,” she explained.

Sister Martinez pointed out that news of the death of a priest or nun in some part of India comes each day. “The Daughters of Charity are very protected by the Virgin Mary, even those who are in the north amidst the violence. We recognize that and we give thanks to God,” she said.

Case – 2: On August 25, 2008, India’s Orissa state government has been accused of failing to take action against the perpetrators of the gang rape of a 28 year old Catholic nun.

India’s largest English daily, The Hindu reports the Orissa government has failed to take any action against those who committed the gang rape of the nun and the brutal attack on a Catholic priest who courageously resisted their attempts to force him to participate in the atrocity.

The incidents took place on August 25, 2008 at K. Nuagaon, 12 kilometres from the Baliguda subdivision in Kandhamal district in Orissa state in India. Both victims filed First Information Reports at the Baliguda police station. Sister Nirmala, Superior-General of the Missionaries of Charity, wrote to the Orissa Chief Minister and the Prime Minister specifying the atrocities.

The brutalisation of the nun and the priest by a mob raising anti-Christian, Hindutva slogans took place around 1pm at the site of the Divya Jyothi Pastor Centre.

The church was burnt the previous day in reprisal against the murder of an RSS activist, Lakshmanananda Saraswathi, and four of his associates on August 23 2008. The gang rape of the young nun, whose “virginity [was] grossly violated in public” took place in front of a police outpost with 12 policemen from the Orissa State Armed Police present and watching, according to Fr Thomas Chellan, the priest who was dragged out and badly beaten.

“Around 1:00 pm a gang came and pulled me and the Sister out of the house where we had taken shelter and started assaulting us,” Father Chellan told Indian newspaper The Hindu in a telephone interview from Kerala where he was recuperating.

“My appeals to the policemen who were standing nearby and watching only resulted in further beating. At one point the nun slipped away to plead with the police for help but she was dragged back by the mob and her blouse torn,” he said. The nun was gang raped in a nearby building, and he was doused with kerosene by the mob, which threatened to set him on fire. They were saved by a group of youth who took them to the police outpost where “one among the attackers was present with the police between 3pm and 9pm,” Father Chellan said.

News of the K-Nuagaon atrocity was conveyed through mobile phones to several priests and nuns hiding in the forests, fearing for their lives as the anti-Christian hunt was on. The victims were taken to the Baliguda police station around 9:00 pm where they filed First Information Reports.

Father Augustine Kanjamala is a Verbite clergyman who teaches at the University of Mumbai [India]. He appealed to the Churches of the world to “express their protest to the government of India” which has remained “inactive” with regards to anti-Christian violence. He openly charges the Orissa state government for its increasingly explicit collusion with the pogrom currently underway against the community of faithful.

According to Father Kanjamala a plan to cleanse Orissa of its Christian population has been in the making for years, especially in the district of Kandhamal [where most of the atrocities have taken place] where Christians now constitute around 5 per cent of the population. Conversions by, development for and emancipation of Tribals and Dalits are confronted by Hindutva conservatism.

“On 24 December 2007, while the Christians were getting ready to celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a member of a Hindu fundamentalist organization [Vishwa Hindu Parishad] and its supporters attacked and destroyed many churches and prayer centres. A large number of Christians were injured and made homeless in the communally sensitive district of Kandhmal, in Orissa state, eastern India.

Exactly eight months later, on 23 August 2008 when the same seer and the Hindu community were preparing to celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna [Janmashtami] in Jalespata ashram [monastery], he and four of his disciples were gunned down by tribal revolutionary Maoists.

That it was a premeditated attack is evident from the fact that he was warned in advance and that government authorities were aware of it. A local TV Channel reported that the murderers left a note on the spot of the murder that this was a revenge killing for the last December attack on the Christians.

Hindus were quick to accuse the Church of masterminding the murder of their revered religious leader, who was in his 80s, rather than accept the government’s view that the attack had a Maoist origin and color.

A meeting of Hindu leaders took place on the following day in Rourkela, also known as Steel City, where a decision for an immediate and violent retaliation was taken. The total success of the dawn to dusk strike in Orissa on 25 August, 2008 is clear evidence of the shocking reaction. The simultaneous unleashing of violent attacks on 35 Christian centres in Orissa on the evening of 25 August further confirms that the plan was organized.

All bomb attacks were directed at Christians and their institutions. The rampaging mob, seeking revenge for the Guru’s murder, destroyed the pastoral centre of the archdiocese of Bhuvaneshwar with a bomb. A priest and a nun working there were beaten up, stripped and paraded naked in order to humiliate them. Four other priests were severely beaten—one suffered severe burns and is now in critical conditions in Burla Medical College, in the district of Sambalpur. The nun was also gang raped by the mob.

The mob also ransacked a church-run orphanage near Burgarh, and the caretaker, Ms. Rajni Maji, was set ablaze and burned to death. A large number of churches, prayer centres, convents, hospitals, dispensaries and vehicles were attacked and torched. Some nuns received warned by mobile phone and either ran into the jungle or escaped by jeep to the neighbouring state of Chattisgarh.

A few lay people lost their lives while thousands ran for theirs into the forests; more than 200 houses were set on fire.The radical Hindu mobs defied the curfew and forced everyone and everything to shut down, bringing life to a stand still and the state virtually to its knees. The official death toll of 20 reported by the controlled media is totally false.

With 40 per cent of the population made up of Tribals and Dalits [outcasts] Orissa is one of the most underdeveloped states in the country.The Kandhamal district, which has seen high levels of anti-Christian violence in the last decade, is also where a significant number of Christian conversions have taken place in the same period. As Dalits who embrace Christianity achieve socio-economic progress, many Tribals have followed them in that path in recent times. Thus while Orissa’s Christian population is less than 2 per cent, the Christian population in the district doubled in the last decade to reach the 5 per cent mark.

In January 1999, the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burned to death by a mob led by one Dara Singh [convicted in 2003].Objecting to missionary activities, the murdered Hindu sage recently said: “The sooner Christians return to the Hindu fold the better it would be for the country.”

Orissa was the first state in the country that passed legislation against religious conversion in 1967, followed later by other states.

Another factor also generates opposition to Christians. It is becoming increasingly clear that where Christian missionaries operate, important social changes take place. People develop, acting and living with greater dignity. Thus, as a result of education, even basic education, Tribals and Dalits are no longer willing to be used as cheap labour in farming. Their sense of dignity and their education have given them the courage to protest against their exploitation and oppression. In addition to such changes over the past two generations, Tribals are now moving in great numbers to the big cities. In Mumbai alone there are some 100,000 young Tribals or Adivasi from Orissa, all working in domestic service or small industrial plants. It is obvious that these changes are transforming Orissa’s socio-economic structure.

There are series of allegations of rape of nuns by the fanatics Hindus in various parts of India. In most cases, those violated nuns do not speak of such brutality fearing social wrath. In some cases, nuns were viodegraphed while being raped, and such video tapes were sold in Indian market as well as in the Middle East by organized crime racket. Alluring titles such as ‘Raping virgin nun’ etc are given to such tapes and the crime racket are cashing millions by selling the sordid stories of the nuns in Christian missionaries.

Case – 3: Meena Lalita Barwa [29], a Roman Catholic nun was raped by a mob of fanatic Hindus in October 2008 and was paraded half-naked.

Sister Meena said that a mob of up to 50 men armed with sticks, axes, spades, crowbars, iron rods and sickles dragged her from the house where they were shelterin. One of the mob raped her, while two more held her down, and then a fourth tried to rape her again, before they paraded her, minus her blouse and underwear, along a road, she said.

When the crowd passed a group of a dozen policemen she begged for help, but they ignored her and talked in a “very friendly” manner to her attackers, she said. “State police failed to stop the crimes, failed to protect me from the attackers,” she said. “I was raped and I don’t want to be victimise[d] by the Orissa police. God Bless India, God bless you all.”

Persecution of Ahmadiyya:

While some fanatic Islamists are demanding declaring Ahmadiyyas as ‘non Muslims’, persecution of this religious group is continuing mostly in Pakistan and Bangladesh, while state authorities are completely silent on this extremely serious matter. There are also reports of persecution of Ahmadiyyas in Malaysia, Indonesia and other Muslim nations.

Indonesian government barred the Ahmadiyyas from visiting Mecca to perform Haj. At West Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia, provincial administration imposed the ban a long time ago, but the matter was not publicly anounced.

In Bangladesh, dozens of Ahmadiyya mosques were attacked and destroyed by Muslim fanatics. BNP led Islamist coalition government in 2004 imposed ban on religious books of Ahmadiyyas and police raided various mosques of this religious minority group and ransacked those places with the excuse of searching for banned publications.

Rana Ata-ul Karim [36] was killed on 6 August 2009 in Multan, Pakistan. He was murdered simply for being an Ahmadi. Karim, a well educated agriculturist, left his home for a few minutes in the afternoon and returned to find that his wife had been locked in their bedroom by three young men who had entered his home. He was later shot 3 times and died on the spot. The assailants immediately fled the scene.

Ahmadiyyas are arguably the most vilified minority across the Islamic world. They are not considered Muslims by mainstream branches of the religion. Founded in the 1880s by a religious figure named Ghulam Ahmad, Ahmadis differ with the mainstream on the death and return of Jesus, the concept of jihad and, most controversially, the question of whether the Prophet Mohammad was the last messenger from Allah. Ghulam claimed to have received messages himself from god, making him a later prophet.

Pakistan is hardly alone in discriminating against Ahmadis. In Indonesia, where they are known as the Ahmadiyah, they have been terrorized regularly, with their places of worship attacked by fundamentalists and members being banned from taking part in the Haj in some parts of the country. Laws were passed in Indonesia last year restricting their activities and prohibiting them from proselytizing. In many parts of Kyrgistan, they have been told to cease worshiping.

The depredations in Pakistan have been particularly distressing. Since the mid 1980s, the Ahmadiyyas have been dying in droves. Some 104 have been murdered in targeted attacks or lynchings and 117 others have escaped murder attempts, according to the community’s records. Other forms of harassment are also common: mosques have been demolished, set on fire and forcibly occupied and Ahmadiyya corpses have been dug up from Muslim graveyards.

Persecution of Hindu:

In Bangladesh and Pakistan, Hindus are regularly repressed by the religious majorities. Hundreds of cases of rape take place every year, most of which fail to reach the attention of the media. There are also series of allegations of abduction and forceful convertion of Hindu females to Islam. In most cases, these Hindu females are abducted and raped to put pressure on them in converting to Islam thus marrying a Muslim man.

Such notoriety take place almost o a daily basis, mostly in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Grabbing Hindu properties is another phenomenon of great concern. Muslims with social or political links, grab the properties of the Hindus thus in many cases forcing them to leave the country and migrate to India. Several Hindu rich families were evicted from their properties, while there had been murders of Hindus by the influential Muslims in the locality to create panic in the minds of this religious minority group.

According to a figure, only in 2008, more than 10,000 Hindu women and girls were raped in various parts of Bangladesh. The total number of such brutality would be several folds higher, if the cases of such notoriety in Pakistan and other Muslim nations are taken into consideration.

A large number of Hindu temples were destroyed in Bangladesh and Pakistan during since the independence of India in 1947. Most of the governments in the Muslim nations consider Hindus as ‘second class citizen of the country’.

In Bangladesh, Muslim house-owners, while renting out homes to Hindu families, openly warn them to refrain from performing rituals every day. A Bangladeshi newspaper editor, who belongs to Hindu community said, he was instructed by his land-lord to refrain from blowing religious flute during their daily rituals.

Situation of religious minorities in most of the South Asian nations are truly volatile. This is becoming more complicated with the ongoing spread of religious hatred amongst the population, thus resulting in communal riot almost every year.

Government in the respective countries, as well members of the civil societies should surely look into this issue with due urgency, before things turn worst.

Source: www.weeklyblitz.net/index.php?id=1013