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PAKISTAN: A lawyer from Hindu community is missing and police refuse to register the case claiming that the abduction of Hindus is of no consequence

December 30, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-252-2011

30 December 2011
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PAKISTAN: A lawyer from Hindu community is missing and police refuse to register the case claiming that the abduction of Hindus is of no consequence

ISSUES: Disappearance; religious minority groups; impunity; rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding that a lawyer belonging to the Dalit caste of Hindu minority community has been missing since December 23 when he was going to attend the Sindh High Court. His car was found abandoned at a Taxi stand with all court files in it. The high police officials of the district Hyderabad, Sindh province have refused to register the case. The police are also fighting on the jurisdiction of the concerned police stations to avoid filing the case. The abductors have asked for ransom of Rs. 10 million but still the police refuse to register the case and are also not investigating it as the abductions of Hindus are not a new thing and the routine business of Muslim fundamentalist groups.

It is feared by his family that he would be killed if he does not embrace Islam or pay the ransom.

The Hindu community remains under threats of abduction, forced conversion to Islam and persecution in the name of blasphemy since many years by the fundamentalist religious organizations that operate through their seminaries (Madressas). Most of the Madressas are not registered by the government but are free to operate with the patronage of the police.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Mr. Mohan Lal Menghwar, advocate, son of Karo Mal, resident of village Bhadisindhu, Chachro, district Tharparkar, Sindh province, was on the way to Sindh high court, Hyderabad bench, Hyderabad district, 56 kilometers away from his residence to attend the court proceedings. He proceeded in early morning at 5. 30 AM but when he did not reach the court it created a panic among the lawyers, clients and family members. In the evening at 7 PM local police informed the family that a car was found abandoned at Tando Jam taxi stand. When family members reached there they found the car of Mohan Lal and everything including the court files were there.

Police of three stations, Tando Adam, Tando Jam and Hyderabad, stopped the family members of the victim to file a First Information Report (FIR) and waited for the abductors' demand for ransom. After two days of his disappearance the police of Hyderabad district flatly refused to register the case. The district police officer says they would not file the case as one cannot say from which jurisdiction of which police station he was abducted. He told the family members that he was abducted from some other place and his car was put in the Tando Jam taxi stand therefore it is difficult to file the case.

Mr. Ladha Ram Sharma, the senior lawyer of the victim, has received a call from abductors for the ransom of Rs. 10 Million for his release. This was duly informed to the police who again refused to file the case. Police were taking the call of ransom very lightly and have yet to start its legal responsibility to act according the law. The police attitude is to accommodate the call of ransom.

It is alleged that provincial police know that he has been abducted by the Muslim religious groups who are operating freely in the areas of the Hindu population in the rural parts of the province through the seminaries. Forced conversion to Islam by the abduction of girls and their forcibly marriage to Muslims is common. The situation of abduction, rape and forced conversion has reached such a position that many Hindu families migrated to India among them are also Hindu legislators.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Murders, kidnappings, looting of Hindu families are on high all around the Pakistan. They are selling their properties at cheap rates and wrapping up their businesses at the cost of big losses. In the recent months 37 Hindus have left Pakistan for India due to security reasons. Hundreds of Hindu families leave Pakistan for India or other countries every year to find safe places for them. Fear has spread among the Sikhs and Hindus of Pakistan after the atrocious beheading incident involving a young Sikh man because of his refusal to convert. Furthermore, the Pakistani State has failed to protect the rights of the religious minorities which has left them feeling helpless while living with daily fear. Since the Taliban fanatics identify Pakistani Hindus as people of India, it has left Pakistani Hindus feeling helpless and with a sense of homelessness because they feel that they are being pushed out of Pakistan and at the same time not readily being accepted into their original home country.

 

A Hindu is being beaten by the Muslim clergy to convert to Islam. Photo by Chakra website.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has estimated that every year more Christians and Hindus are forcibly converted to Islam. An activist and council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amarnath Motumal, stated that Hindus are targeted due to many local Muslims seeing them as kafirs (non-Muslims) and therefore of lower class as well as evil. Threats are commonly given by the dangerous kidnappers that if they are reported, the families will hear of their daughter’s death. Motumal said that the word “Hindu” has become an insult and almost a shame for all Hindus in the Islamic state of Pakistan because of impoverished state 90% of Hindu families live in. He addressed that the government and others in power are to blame for the lack of rights available to the Hindu community.

It is feared by his family that he would be killed if he does not embrace the Islam or pay the ransom of rupees ten million.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the given authorities calling them to ensure the safe recovery of Mohan Lal advocate and prosecute the police officers of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar districts for their negligence to register the case and no investigation to apprehend the abductors. Also urge the authorities to initiate the inquiry in to the matter of continuous abduction and forced conversion to Islam in Sindh province and negligence of law enforcement agencies to stop the practice.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance requesting them to intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: A lawyer from Hindu community is missing and police refuse to register the case claiming that the abduction of Hindus is of no consequence

Name of victim:
Mr. Mohan Lal Menghwar advocate son of Karo Mal, resident of village Bhadisindhu, Chachro, district Tharparkar, Sindh province,
Alleged perpetrators:
District police officers of Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad districts, Sindh province
Date of incident: 23 December 2011
Place of incident: Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the abduction of Mohan Lal Meghwar, a Hindu lawyer from Mirpurkhas, Sindh province, on December 23 and since then the Sindh police are refusing to register the FIR on the pretext that Hindus abductions are nothing new as they are happening as a routine business of Muslim seminaries.

I am informed that Mr. Mohan Lal Menghwar, advocate, son of Karo Mal, resident of village Bhadisindhu, Chachro, district Tharparkar, Sindh province, was on the way to Sindh high court, Hyderabad bench, Hyderabad district, 56 kilometers away from his residence to attend the court proceedings. He proceeded in early morning at 5. 30 AM but when he did not reach the court it created a panic among the lawyers, clients and family members. In the evening at 7 PM local police informed the family that a car was found abandoned at Tando Jam taxi stand. When family members reached there they found the car of Mohan Lal and everything including the court files were there.

The negligence of Sindh police can be judged that Police from three different stations of Tando Adam, Tando Jam and Hyderabad, stopped the family members of the victim to file first information report (FIR) and wait for the abductors' demand for ransom. After two days of his disappearance the police of Hyderabad district flatly refused to register the case. The district police officer says they would not file the case as one cannot say from which jurisdiction of which police station he was abducted. He told the family members that he was abducted from some other place and his car was put in the Tando Jam taxi stand therefore it is difficult to file the case.

It is shocking that Mr. Ladha Ram Sharma, the senior lawyer of the victim, has received a call from abductors for the ransom of Rupees 10 Million for his release. This was duly informed to the police who again refused to file the case. Police were taking the call of ransom very lightly and till yet not started its legal responsibility to act according the law. The police attitude is to accommodate the call of ransom.

According to my knowledge it is alleged that provincial police know that he has been abducted by the Muslim religious groups who are operating freely in the areas of Hindu population in the rural parts of the province through the seminaries. The forced conversion to Islam by abduction of girls and their forcibly marriage to Muslims are common. The situation of abduction, rape and forced conversion has reached such a position that many Hindu families migrated to India among them are also Hindu legislators.

I urge you to ensure the safe recovery of Mohan Lal advocate and prosecute the police officers of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Tharparkar districts for their negligence to register the case and no investigation to apprehend the abductors. Also initiate the inquiry in to the matter of continuous abduction and forced conversion to Islam in Sindh province and negligence of law enforcement agencies to stop the practice.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1.Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel:+ 92-51-9204801-9214171
Fax: + 92-51-9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani,
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

3. Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

4. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

5. Mr. Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026 +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com or interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

6. Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan
Governor of Sindh province
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 5043
Tel: +92 21 920 1201 +92 21 920 1201 +92 21 920 1201 +92 21 920 1201
E-mail: governor@governorsindh.gov.pk

7. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
Chief Minister
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000
Email: pressecy@cmsindh.gov.pk

8. Mr. Justice Musheer Alam
The Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: registrar@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

9. Ms. Nadia Gabol
Minister for Human Rights
Government of Sindh,
Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9207044
Tel: +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043
E-mail: lukshmil@yahoo.com


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-252-2011
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.