Peaceful coexistence – Dr Ramesh Kumar

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A highly condemnable incident took place in Tharparkar, causing a wave of anger and outrage among peace-loving citizens across the country. In a viral video on social media, it can be seen that a man is harassing a poor Hindu boy, demanding he say blasphemous words against his (Hindu) religion. According to my information, this incident is one month old and the oppressed Hindu child belongs to a very poor family.

Tharparkar is known all over the world for its unique values of interfaith harmony and plural society. According to the recent census results, the population of Tharparkar is about 1.6 million, half of whom belong to the Hindu religion. At the time of Independence, religious riots were on rise across the Subcontinent, but the deserts of Thar remained calm and peaceful. Quaid-e-Azam, in his August 11 speech appealed to the Hindu community not to migrate from Pakistan. In response to this, many Hindu families, including my elders, decided to declare Pakistan our beloved Dharti Mata (motherland).

The Pakistan Hindu Council reacted strongly over the viral video. On social media, the demand for the arrest of the accused became the top trend. In a few hours, thousands of tweets were posted. Our TV channels also played a positive role in condemning the tragic incident. The prompt action taken by the Sindh Police, especially SSP Tharparkar, is highly appreciable. At the demand of the Pakistan Hindu Council, not only was the FIR lodged but the culprit was also arrested and presented before the media.

In this regard, my stance is very clear: all religions ask their followers to respect each other. The recent irresponsible act has once again proved that some ignorant people consider it a good deed to insult other religions. Such few people are capable of committing any undesirable act at any time which harms the efforts for peaceful coexistence.

However, it is a matter of satisfaction that after the recent incident, the people of Pakistan have shown sympathy regardless of their socio-religious affiliations and stood up for the poor victim. In my view, the behavior of the people living in an Islamic welfare state should be a role model for the entire world community. If any wrongdoing is committed against the minorities in our neighborhood, we shouldn’t make it an excuse to target patriotic minorities living in our country.

Various international media representatives have approached me to know my reaction after the recent incident. I tried my best to emphasize that the majority of people living in Pakistan believe in religious harmony, co-existence and brotherhood. Even under the constitution of Pakistan, all citizens of the country are equal. Constitutionally, non-Muslims have full freedom to practice their religion.

Unfortunately, it was very difficult for me to answer the questions of what action has been taken against those who have damaged Hindu temples in the past. How do culprits who target the holy places of the non-Muslim community manage to get bail? Despite the clear orders of the Supreme Court, why could Holi not be celebrated at the Prahlad Temple in Multan? Similarly, a Hindu teacher Nautan Lal from Ghotki is sent to jail for a baseless complaint by a student. Why is the misuse of blasphemy laws not stopped yet?

Today, the Hindu community across the country is very disturbed. It is our just demand that the hate-mongering person must be punished strictly under Sections 295A and 298 of the Pakistan Penal Code. This is also a test case for the provincial and federal governments to use all means for ensuring brotherhood and peaceful coexistence in society.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

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