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Source : The Baloch Hal News
KALAT, 18th March 2011 : Hindus in Balochistan have decided not to celebrate their upcoming religious festival of Holi in protest against government’s failure to recover a kidnapped prominent religious leader and high Preist, Maharaj Luckmi (Lakki) Chand Garji of the historic Kali Mandir, of the Kalat Hindu community who was abducted two and half months ago.Hindus also cited the killing of senior Balochistan National Party leader and scion of the Khan of Kalat family, Agha Mehmood Ahmadzai, as another reason for not celebrating the festival of colors which is being marked at the end of this week.
The decision was made in Kalat during a meeting of the Hindu Panchayat which was headed by Dewan Hari Chand, the community organization’s president who said the government had failed to fulfill its promises to provide protection to the Hindus living in Balochistan. He complained that two and half months had passed but authorities had not succeeded in recovering the missing Hindu spiritual leader, Lakki Chand Garji which had triggered a sense of insecurity among them.
“We can’t celebrate Holi, a day of happiness, with our spiritual leader missing and the Khan Kalat family mourning over the killing of Agha Mehmood. We’dlike to express our solidarity with the people of Balochistan at this critical juncture,” he added.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the community’s Kalat chapter under the chairmanship of Divaan Harichand, Makhi Chand and Chaudhry Jettanand. Maharaja of the historic Kali Mandir, Luckmi Chand Garji, was abducted last December and there is still no trace of him.
“Law enforcement agencies have failed to trace the kidnapped Hindu leader despite a lapse of three months,” Harichand said, adding that the government had been assuring the community for the maharaja’s safe recovery but his whereabouts were yet to be ascertained.
The population of Hindus in Balochistan is more than 200,000. The festival of Holi is scheduled to be celebrated on Saturday.
Residents of several towns and cities of Sindh – the hub of Pakistani Hindus – have announced that they would observe the festival with simplicity for various reasons. Holi – the festival of spring – would be observed on Saturday and Rangoli – the festival of colours – would fall on Sunday. Pakistani Hindus are believed to be the biggest religious minority of the country with a population of, according to the 1998 census, 2.7 million people, majority of whom live in Sindh. In the northern districts of the province, the recent waves of kidnappings for ransom of minor Hindus have adversely affected the community in the districts. A detailed research conducted by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child National Manager Salam Dharejo reveals that between 2008 and 2010, at least 23 minors – some as young as three years old – were kidnapped for ransom in Kashmore and Kandhkot towns, nine of whom were Hindus, including four girls. The study also stated that recently, 12 more child kidnapping cases were brought to light, and half of the victims belonged to Hindu families, whereas most of these children have not been recovered yet. Due to increasing kidnappings for ransom of Baloch Hindus in Balochistan, several families have so far migrated to India and other countries, whereas many others are planning to leave. “In the northern districts of Sindh, most Hindus are businessmen, so their children are being kidnapped for ransom. Under these circumstances, how can Hindu families celebrate the festivals of happiness,” said Revachand, a resident of Kashmore Town.
In the past, the Sindhi Hindus of Umerkot, Tharparkar and Sanghar – the districts with thick Hindu population – celebrated the colourful festival of Holi on a massive scale, but in 2009, a tragic incident occurred, because of which the local Hindus are still in fear. On March 11, 2009, the Hindu community was celebrating Holi when some Muslims in the area, who found some things written on the road with colours in connection with Holi celebrations, considered the writings sacrilegious. Several towns in the districts and nearby districts were closed down while angry mobs attacked the properties of Hindus. “Though it was the first incident of its kind, we have restricted our celebrations to limited areas to avoid any unpleasant event,” said a resident of Vahro Sharif village near Umerkot. Besides that, in the recent floods, a large number of Hindus, who were working as landless peasants in kutcha area – the worst flood-hit area of the province – were rendered homeless, and despite the passage of several months, many of them are still living at relief camps; therefore, they would also be unable to celebrate their religious festival. Since centuries, Sindh – also known as the land of Sufis – has been a model of religious harmony, and Sindhi Muslims usually celebrate Hindu festivals with their Hindu friends, but times have changed. Increasing religious extremism in the Pakistani society has also affected the Sufi Sindh, and many Sindhi Muslims, despite willing to join their Hindu friends in their celebrations, are unable to do so, which is a bad omen for Sindhi Hindus.
Hindu Existence adds that the there are some 20 prominent Hindu organisations in Pakistan trying hard to restore the minority rights in Pakistan for the 2.5 million maximum Hindus living in Pakistan today. Though claimed by Pakistan Hindu Council that there are 7 million (5.5%)Hindus still exist in Pakistan the Pakistan Govt. records and detailed Sources support that there are near 2.5 million Hindus form less than 2% of the total Pak population about 132.35 million as per 1998 census there. With the heinous killing of Mr Shebaz Bhatti ( was a Christian by faith), the Minority Minister Pakistan, obviously Pak Hindus also lost a good friend and advocate of Minority Rights as all Rights Activist feel deeply. Mr Bahtti requested Pak Punjab Govt. to allow Rs. 5000/= to all Hindu minority families in Pak Punjab Province at the time of Diwali and Holi and he had in mind to introduced it in all the provinces where Hindus exist in Pakistan. The process is now at stake.
But the Pak Govt. even does not allow any Central holiday for any Hindu occasion perhaps termed as a religion of Kaffirs. The Pak Govt. holiday list does not contain any Hindu Holiday.
List of Public Holidays for 2011 in Pakistan
|February – 05||Saturday||Kashmir Day|
|February – 17||Thursday||Eid Milad un-Nabi|
|March – 23||Wednesday||Pakistan Day|
|May – 01||Sunday||Labor Day|
|August – 14||Sunday||Independence Day|
|August – 31||Wednesday||Eid-ul-Fitr Day 1|
|September – 01||Thursday||Eid-ul-Fitr Day 2|
|September – 02||Friday||Eid-ul-Fitr Day 3|
|November – 07||Monday||Eid ul-Azha Day 1|
|November – 08||Tuesday||Eid ul-Azha Day 2|
|November – 09||Wednesday||Birthday of Muhammad Iqbal|
|December – 07||Wednesday||Ashura|
|December – 08||Thursday||Ashura|
|December – 25||Sunday||Birthday of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah|
|December – 25||Sunday||Christmas|
|December – 26||Monday||Day after Christmas|
Though Holi is not a holiday in Pakistan, news of celebration of Holi came to us from various parts as a way to get relief from the gross persecution, bonded labor life, abduction and ethnic cleansing of Hindus there.
This year, Asma Jehangir, a veteran Human Rights Activists in Pakistan and the president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Pakistan and a delegation of 138 members of SCBA are to visit India for celebrating Holi in Jaipur, India.