PAKISTAN: Floods in Sindh-the 'untouchables' waiting to get a touch of relief efforts
An article by Fizza Hassan published by the Asian Human Rights Commission
As Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) predicts more monsoon rains in the coming days, the worst victims of rains and breaches in a monsoon-swollen Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) in Badin district -- the Pakistani low caste Hindus (Dalits) of the districts were denied to get in to relief camps for being ‘untouchables.’
In the last five weeks when monsoon-swollen drains and LBOD burst its banks and caused recent history’s worst ever catastrophic disaster, the so-called traditional bigotry continued to run deeper than the floodwaters.
Despite torrential rains majority of these Hindu Dalits in Badin district continue to live in open sky as they were not allowed accommodation in the private/self-built relief camps of Muslims.
What added to the tragedy was the federal government’s ban on NGOs and international donors to work in these areas for 'security reasons.' As the government itself initiated relief operation much later, the religious extremist organizations that started relief operation in Badin have completely ignored these Dalits or Harijan, which means 'Children of God'.
Cahnesar Bheel, a Dalit farmer and resident of Goth Gomando Bheel, Taluka Golarchi [Shaheed Fazil Rahu] is one of around 700 Dalits of his village who have no choice but to live in their submerged village with his nine children.
'Our village is between the two drains and during rains both burst and inundated our village from either side, so we rushed to a nearby relief camps set inside a government school but the tenants did not allow us to live inside the camp, so we came here and started living under open sky,' Bheel told media.
Bheel said the people living inside the camps had said them that they are Shudra, so they are not allowed to live with Muslims. His village comprises on 80 households with 700 population and all are Dalits.
A civil society activist, Ameer Mandhro sharing his views said, 'This is not the only village of Dalits in the district that have no roof on their heads but there are countless other Dalit villages including villages on Khoski road, Seerani, Lonwari Shrief and other areas where Dalits are living this way because they are not allowed a place in the relief camps.'
Same happened with Pibhu Kolhi and 50 other residents of his village, who rushed to a relief camp set inside a government school in Tando Bagho, were not allowed to live in the camp after heavy rains.
However, humanity in still prevails within some hearts as a man inside a camp allotted one isolated class room to a few Dalit flood victims. As Kolhi said, ''The isolated class room is away from the main building where only two families are living while the rest of the village is living in open despite continued heavy rains.'' He said some philanthropists came to provide food in the relief camp, but they were not given, so despite rain they are cooking food in open sky.
In the emergency situation the role of the minister for minorities affairs Mohan Lal Kohistani seeks attention. Kohistani, despite such a large number of the Hindu population being a part of flood victims, has not done anything so far for their relief.
Sindh has faced floods in 2010 this year again worst monsoon rains have hit the region but Kohistani’s ministry has not set a single camp in the province to help any Hindu, Christian or any other religious minority.
As rains continue to wash away the agricultural and residential lands in Sindh, religious bias has yet to be estranged. The situation remains tough for the PPP-led government, which not only hails from Sindh but always claim to work indiscriminately as well.
The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.
About the Author:
Fizza Hassan is a journalist and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org