Minorities in Pak not safe even outside jails

Saeed Khan

India, May 9 -- For the minorities in Pakistan, life outside prison is just one degree less suffocating than that behind bars, as evidenced by the accounts of refugees, around 6,000, living in Indore.

Tara Chand Seetlani, 54, fled Sindh five years ago after his young daughter was forcibly abducted for a shotgun wedding.

"She was forced to marry a Muslim, son of a deputy superintendent of police. When we went to lodge a complaint, the police started harassing us instead of registering an FIR," said Seetlani, who fled his residence in Jacobabad (Sind) with the rest of his family, including two young daughters.

Seetlani, who looks at least 10 years older than what he is, explained how forced marriages worked. "The girl's parents are kept hostage and she's warned that if she doesn't say that she's marrying of her own free will they will be shot," said Seetlani.

Three years after coming to India, Seetlani had a paralytic attack, which rendered him unfit to continue his work as a loading autorickshaw driver. Today the family of five depends on the sole son's meagre earnings.

Hindus in Sindh are also at the receiving end of blasphemy laws.

"One can get into trouble even for wrapping kachori in a newspaper that has a picture of a mosque or the Quran," said Kanhaiyalal Kamora, who left Jacobabad in 1986.

Kamora's family has been trying to get citizenship for 26 years now but to no avail.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.