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Pakistan: Tablighi Jamaat forcibly converting Hindus and demolishing homes

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Minority communities remain under attack from Muslim fanatics in Pakistan. In the latest instance, Hindus in the Sindh province of Pakistan staged protests against Islamic proselytising group, the infamous Tablighi Jamaat in Nasurpur, Matiar. Hindus from the tribal Bhil community said that the group demolished their houses and abducted a Hindu boy for refusing to convert to Islam.

A video, which has been shared widely on social media, showed Hindus protesting against the forced conversions. "We will prefer to die but will never ever convert to Islam," proclaimed hand-written posters against the Tablighi Jamaat. A woman protester said that their properties were grabbed and homes demolished. They were beaten up, forced to leave and asked to convert if they wanted their houses back. The videos also showed another woman narrating how her son was abducted by members of Tablighi Jamaat.

In Muslim majority Pakistan, led by former cricketer Imran Khan, persecution of non-Muslims is common. Hindus and Christians has been particularly targetted in the Sindh and Punjab provinces. The minorities face forced conversions, kidnapping of minor girls and discrimination in all walks of life. Less than a month back, the brother of a Pakistani politician was alleged to have kidnapped two Hindu girls. In this case too, the family made a video to seek justice for their minor daughters, Suthi and Shama, who had been forcibly abducted by the brother of Pir Faisal Shah Jeelani, a member of the National Assembly.

Recently, a Pakistani NGO was in news internationally for denying food to minorities during the coronavirus-necessitated lockdown. The Saylani Welfare International Trust, that helps homeless and seasonal workers, was found refusing food to Hindus and Christians, giving it only to Muslims. Even the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has criticised the Imran Khan government, saying "there have been horrific, religiously motivated attacks on the minority communities and any efforts towards eradicating the violence, prejudices, and inequalities have been virtually imperceptible".

The commission said in Punjab and Sindh, girls as young as 14 were abducted, forcibly converted and coerced into marriage. It added that the Hindu community is feeling insecure and vulnerable as they face antagonism and mob attacks over allegations of blasphemy. "They are also forced to learn Islamic studies in school. There is also some concern that there are not enough Christian burial grounds and Hindu cremation grounds." Regretting that even as the court had directed in 2014 to set up a task force to develop a strategy for religious tolerance, reform of curricula, action against hate speech, special police to protect places of worship, and prompt registration of cases of desecration, the HRCP said nothing has happened.

Hundreds of Bhils have fled Islamic persecution to India where they have been living in Rajasthan. They have welcomed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which speed tracks Indian citizenship for persecuted minorities in Pakistan. While this impoverished Pakistani Bhil community is subject to violent conversions by Muslim fanatics, it is also on the radar of right-wing nternational evangelical organisations who prey on their vulnerability for easy conversions to Christianity.