The forum was organised by the Scheduled Caste Rights Movement (SCRM) to highlight social injustices faced by the scheduled caste Hindus here on Tuesday.
The forum was attended by policy makers, legislators, lawyers, journalists and civil society activists, besides scheduled caste Hindus belonging to Cholistan, Multan, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The speakers demanded the government to ensure progress on Pakistani Hindu Marriages Registration Bill 2009, the draft of which had already been submitted to the Ministry of Minority Affairs and Ministry of Human Rights.
Shakuntala Devi, a woman participant from Multan, said due to absence of Hindu marriage registration, women failed to get any share in their parents and husbands property.She said the minority communities in Pakistan faced certain legal issues that could be rectified through minor amendments in the laws.
She referred to Permaisry Mai’s struggle for seeking National Identity Card (NIC) which ended up only when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the issue and directed the authorities concerned to issue her CNIC.
Ms Devi said it was the right of all Hindu women belonging to all the tribes to have their CNICs as they were Pakistani citizens by birth.
Riaz Fatiyana, Chairman Standing Committee on Human Rights, said there was need to redress the grievances of marginalised communities particularly the scheduled castes.
He said that standing committee had already decided to discuss many test cases from across the country including those of rape, honour killing and forced conversion.
The forum was informed about the discrimination faced by scheduled caste Hindus not only at the hands of Muslims and the authorities but also by the upper caste Hindus.
The participants said that scheduled castes had been deprived of land, seminaries and graveyards by various forces over the years.
SCRM Coordinator Guru Sukh Dev Jee said: “We intend to mobilise scheduled caste Hindus living in Sindh who will strengthen our voice for justice and equality.”
He said: “Many Hindu women had been forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men while they were already married to a Hindu.
Since there was no documentation to prove the earlier marriage, the woman’s husband or family was unable to take up the issue on legal grounds.”