Rawalpindi—Although Sindh has taken the lead in codifying Hindu Marriage Act yet in rest of the country, call for the similar legislation is falling on deaf ears. More than 200 Hindu families are scattered in parts of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in Saddar, Chaklala, Chungi Number 22, Lal Kurti, Alipur Firash, G-7, Bhara Kahu and suburbs of the Federal Capital and their major complaint is they don’t have the proper place to observe their ritual rites—cremate their dead, perform religious rituals like worship, recite Geeta and play Holi. These Hindus in their individual as well as collective capacity contribute to the uplift of their community and the society at large. These sons and daughters of the soil belong to both Balmik and caste system Hindus.
During a survey conducted by Pakistan Observer, it turned out that Balmik Hindus are in majority in the garrison city. They are further divided into two sub-castes; those who cremate their dead and those who bury them. However, unlike India, in Pakistan and particularly in Rawalpindi, the division is restricted only to observance of certain rituals and does not characterise their ways of living.
Despite difference in the observance of rituals and distance between their temples, these scattered populations of Hindu are like the joints of one chain. Pakistan Hindu Sikh Welfare Council and Sudhar Young Hindu Welfare Sabha are the two organisations which are working for the rights of the Hind community, preservation of their ways of living and their overall social, political and economic welfare. Jagmohan Kumar Arora and Akash Raj represent the two organisations respectively.
They agree that Hindus face no immediate threat from any particular group or individuals, yet they said, the Hindu community was far from mixing up in society and was being exploited in the name of religious, cultural and social differences. “The government has taken Hindus for granted and never bothered to take them on board regarding formation of a policy to bring them in the main streamline,” says Jagmohan.
About some practices in the Hindu Matt, he said they are not the part of the Hindu religion they are only social and cultural taboos which are wrongly interpreted as the ills of Hindu Matt. When asked why Hindus could not make their mark in various fields, he said it was because of the deep sense of alienation they are suffering from within their own country i.e. Pakistan.
Besides a man’s future planning is marked by his financial conditions, said Jagmohan. However, he was of the view that Balmik Hindus are not much educated yet there were some examples of Hindu doctors, teachers and scholars. All they are individual success stories and the government has nothing to do with their achievement in various fields, he says. Jagmohan takes pride in the fact that his eldest daughter Warsha Arora was a student of the Fatima Jinnah Women University and was pursuing a Masters degree without facing any discrimination. His two other daughters Megha and Hema are also getting education with other Muslim girls in their institutes.