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Targeted killing of Hindu doctor highlights systematic attacks on minorities in Pakistan

Dr Birbal Genani was shot dead in Karachi, Pakistan (Photo: Twitter)

Eye specialist Dr Birbal Genani was shot dead in a targeted killing in Karachi on Thursday while returning home from his clinic. Hindu organisations are holding a protest demonstration outside the Sindh assembly today over killings of Hindus and the abduction of minor Hindu girls.

Pakistani media reports that Genani was the former senior director of health of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and a practicing eye specialist. The doctor died on the spot while the lady doctor accompanying Genani was injured in the attack, according to Geo News.

CCTV footage of the incident showed Genani’s car going out of control and smashing into a wall. The woman doctor told the police: “Firing started suddenly and I could not understand anything.” SSP City, Arif Aziz called Genani’s murder a “target killing” but could not elaborate on the exact reason behind the murder.

The country has seen rising and consistent violence practiced against the Hindu minority from almost all sections of the Pakistani society.

A few days back, the police assaulted Hindu shopkeepers in Punjab for allegedly “violating the Ramzan Ordinance” for having meals. Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune reported that a police officer was seen beating Hindu restaurant owners who were reportedly preparing biryani for delivery orders in the local market.

According to a video that went viral on social media, a senior police officer tortured, harassed, manhandled, and arrested more than a dozen people including Hindu shopkeepers after physically assaulting them.

Sindh, Pakistan’s most prosperous region because of flourishing businesses, has witnessed much violence against minorities. It is notorious for its inhumane sexual assaults on schoolgirls and forcibly converting them to Islam after marrying them to old Muslim men. The conversion of teenage Hindu girls has the support of the entire Pakistani society – from Muslim clerics, to the police, juvenile justice homes and the courts – all of who actively collude to threaten Hindu families and forcibly hand over the victims to their rapists.

A recent documentary highlighted how abductions of young Hindu girls, their marriages to older men and religious conversion goes on with the nod of the Pakistani society. This middle-aged barbaric practice has the tacit support of Pakistani mainstream media, feminists and the Pakistani government as well, who neither raise their voices nor support the girl victims.

The Pakistani society is not only complicit but has actively perpetuated an unending cycle of violence against the Hindus under the guise of conversions. In one of the most heart-wrenching incidents of crimes against women – an impoverished Hindu woman Daya Bhil was killed, beheaded and her skin peeled off by Muslim men in Sindh in December 2022. Until recently, her perpetrators have not been punished, giving a clear signal to majoritarian elements that they can carry on with assaults of minority women.

One of the most potent weapons against minorities in the Pakistani arsenal is the blasphemy charge – a mere allegation that can cause mobs of violent men to beat, burn and torture people from minority communities. Sri Lankan factory manager working in Pakistan was killed in the most inhumane manner on a false charge of blasphemy in 2021.

Lately the blasphemy charge has been exported from Pakistan to other nations in Europe and also the UK which has a sizable Muslim population not just from Pakistan but also from across the conflict-torn world. In most of the secular and liberal nations, the blasphemy charge is neither accepted nor given a legal status. However, under the charges of blasphemy Muslim groups have been actively driving teachers underground and threatening schoolboys in the UK, killing people in India and resorting to violence in European nations.

Also read: European Union warns Pakistan on blasphemy laws, women rights