A sorry tale of North Waziristan’s Hindus

1403823858-1275BANNU – Way back in 1949, Jamila Laal married Adbari Laal, a businessman by profession. The Vivaah Sanskaar, rite of marriage, was performed at Miranshah during a ceremony and a large number of Hindus living in the area participated.

Jamila Laal, 80, whose ancestors, according to her, migrated from Ferozpur, India, loves Miranshah like other tribesmen of the area are also emotionally attached to their hometown. Her marriage lasted for almost 65 years before her husband died in 2010.

According to Jamila, who represents Balmik Hindu caste, she was born in Miranshah where considerable numbers of Hindus were living before the partition of subcontinent. However, when Pakistan came into being her family was one of the few families that opted for living in North Waziristan. “I have spent my entire life in Miranshah, I never imagined that a time will come that we will leave the area and become homeless like we are today,” she added.

Jamila Laal is one of the 114 Hindu and Christian minority members who left North Waziristan during the ongoing military operation. The minorities of North Waziristan complain that they have been ignored by the government and are living in Bannu city in miserable condition. Currently a Christian community in Bannu is providing help to both Hindus and Christians with food, shelter and other necessities of life.

According to Father Wasim Ayaz, Christian community in Bannu is helping around 25 Christian and Hindu families of North Waziristan. Majority of them have been adjusted at the Panel High School and College in Bannu city.  “Neither the government’s representatives nor the political leadership of minorities have so far come to help these poor people,” he added.

The family of Rajish Daas from Civil Colony Miranshah, who is a tailor by profession, has taken shelter in the same school. “We have been registered as IDPs at the Saidgai Checkpoint but we are being treated as second class citizens. The minorities are being ignored at food distribution points,” he complained.

The Christian and Hindu minorities of North Waziristan said that the local tribesmen were very kind to them who never interfered in their affairs. However, a constant fear was in their minds due to clashes between militants and security forces in the area. “We used to freely roam in Miranshah bazaar and had no threat from militants or any other people. Even if we had some disputes amongst within our community we went to Taliban commanders to get them resolved,” said Vid Kumar, a young Hindu.

He further said that Hafiz Gul Bahadur had ordered his men that no one should interfere in the affairs of minorities. “We had equal rights in North Waziristan but here the government is treating us in an indifferent manner”.

There are some Hindu families settled in Bannu district and reportedly some minority IDPs have also taken shelters there but so far none of the minorities have reportedly allowed to be settled in government-run camp.

According to the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), during the ongoing military operation total of 36,831 families (comprising 4, 56,508 individuals) have left North Waziristan. However, the tribesmen are not interested to take shelter in a government-run camp for the IDPs in Bakka Khel frontier region in Bannu.

According to a report, at the moment there are only 340 people living in this camp. The minorities of North Waziristan say that they should be either adjusted in it or a separate camp should be established for them. “If the tribesmen are not interested to live in the camp then they should allow us to live in it,” said Vid Kumar.

Talking to this scribe, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for Minorities’ Affairs Dr Sardar Suran Singh said these families had not registered themselves while crossing Saidgai checkpoint. “It is their own mistake and government should not be blamed. I am personally visiting the area tomorrow to solve the issue,” he said and added,  “Until the issue is not resolved, I will accommodate and facilitate all these people from my own pocket.”

On the other hand, Haroon Sarab Diyal, Chairman All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (APHRM) said that the issue of minorities is not a single case of its nature as his community was always ignored and neglected in this country. “We have properties all around the country but the government is not handing over the possession. Otherwise, these people will have no need to rely on others’ help. We have nothing to help our brethren today and we can only pray for them.”

President of Life For All Pakistan (LFAP) Xavier William confessed that the said issue was not in his notice. However, his organisation is now planning to establish a camp in Bannu to support all the IDPs of North Waziristan. “All the citizens of Pakistan have equal rights so that they should be treated equally,” he added.

Source: The Nation