KARACHI: Different organisations of Hindus, Christians and Sikhs have announced that they would launch a protest campaign against the Sindh minority affairs minister for distributing financial assistance application forms for funds worth Rs 50 million - which his ministry has received for the welfare for minorities this year - to Pakistan People’s Party ministers and others close to him.
Last year, the minority affairs ministry had received Rs 100 million that were to be distributed among the underprivileged minority classes, and spent on renovation of temples, churches and gurdwaras and scholarships for minority students. However, the minority communities have claimed that they never received these funds.
Many people belonging to the minority communities took to the streets to protest against the misuse of these funds, and the higher authorities of the Sindh government had announced starting a probe into the matter, but no action was taken.
This year, Rs 50 million have been released to the ministry as part of its half-year budget for this purpose, but the minorities have claimed that Sindh Minority Affairs Minister Mohan Lal Kohistani had distributed 2,500 application forms for financial assistance among PPP ministers and leaders including Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, Works and Services Minister Manzoor Ahmed Wassan and several MPAs and district presidents of the party.
The method to distribute these funds is simple. The ministry distributes the forms and a six-member committee, headed by the minority affairs minister and others, sign cheques worth Rs 5,000 each for the application forms received.
“Last year, not a single Sikh was given a penny, whereas there are around 3,000 Sikhs living in Sindh,” said Sikh Naujawan Saubha President Sardar Ramesh Singh. He said no Sikh was given a job, financial assistance and not a single gurdwara had been renovated so far.
“Even Hindus and Christians were ignored while distributing the funds,” said former MPA and All-Pakistan Minority Alliance Sindh Secretary General Michael Javed. He announced launching a protest drive against the provincial minister.
“Not a single minority student was granted any scholarship and Lal distributed funds among the people of his hometown Thana Bola Khan,” said Minority Student Federation Sindh Secretary General Lekhraj Solanki. He said students would protest against Lal at the Hyderabad Press Club on Monday.
When contacted, the minority affairs minister admitted that the application forms had been given to PPP ministers and district presidents. “These minister and district presidents have minorities living in their constituencies as well, and the forms have been provided for them,” said Lal.
The minister rebutted the allegations that he was involved in the misappropriation of funds.