The issue of Hindu families’ migration to India has become more ambiguous with the community’s leaders contradicting each other at the same press conference.
The press conference was arranged at the Karachi Press Club by Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, who has been assigned the task to defuse the tensions arising from the issue. Another Hindu minister, Mohan Lal Kohistani and other community leaders as well as Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA from Jacobabad, Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani were also present on the occasion.
“The media should play its role in squashing the rumours, which are not only defaming the province, but the whole country,” said Jakhrani.He said Hindu community members were going to India on a pilgrimage, which they performed every year, unlike the perception that they were permanently leaving the country.
The MNA claimed that Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader and former chief minister Liaquat Jatoi was responsible for the migration of former MPA Ram Sing Sodo from Pakistan to India.
Chawla said the law and order situation in the province was not perfect. “Nobody is safe. The Hindus are not being exclusively targeted; it is the general situation in the whole country.” The minister said he would leave for Jacobabad on Saturday (today) to meet with Hindu leaders. “More than a 100 Hindus from Ghotki and the same number from Karachi will also visit India for the pilgrimage.”
However, an office-bearer of the Hindu Panchayat Jacobabad, Mahesh Babu contradicted the claims of the community leaders belonging to the ruling party, saying that the Hindus living in Jacobabad were constantly facing the threats of forced conversion and kidnapping.
“After the recent kidnapping and death of two famous Hindu doctors, the community felt that living in Jacobabad had become impossible,” said Babu.
“The minority leaders of Sindh hardly visit their community members and never do anything to address the problems they face. The killers of the doctors were never caught, and the issue remains unsolved.”
Babu denied that the PML-N was involved in the issue, claiming that he was a
supporter of the PPP and he had not struck a deal with any political party to highlight the issue.
Refuting Babu’s claims, Dr BH Khurana, another office-bearer of the Hindu Panchayat Jacobabad, said no member of the Hindu community was migrating to India and the community’s members visited that country only to fulfill religious obligations.
Khurana accused Babu of creating problems for the Hindus living in Sindh and Balochistan. “Babu’s tenure in the Hindu Panchayat has expired, but he refuses to quit.”
He claimed that Babu had asked the excise department to grant him a liquor shop licence, but after his request was turned down, he was using the migration issue to pressure the government.
The government claims that the issue is a conspiracy hatched to dent the country’s reputation. On Thursday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had claimed that the embassy of a “neighbouring country” had hatched a conspiracy against the Pakistani government by issuing 250 visas to the Hindu families without checking the facts.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah had also taken notice of the issue and directed the excise and taxation minister to visit Jacobabad, probe the matter and submit a report within three days.
The reports about the Hindu families’ migration have grabbed worldwide attention, with international human rights organisations condemning the State’s inability to provide security to minorities.
Around 60 families from Jacobabad recently left for India. Sources said Hindu families, mostly from Jacobabad and Ghotki, alarmed by the poor law and order situation and forced conversions, had started migrating to the neighbouring country a few months ago. They added that around four families were moving to India every month.