Friday, November 12, 2010
Only recently, five-year-old Dheeraj Kumar was freed after 35 days in
captivity when police arrested the abductors who had sought Rs.10 million in ransom.
The family was overjoyed to have him back but decided to quit Kandhkot -- where they had lived for generations -- and settle elsewhere.
Dheeraj is not the only one. But he is the first abducted Hindu child to
freed without the payment of ransom, says the daily Express Tribune.
Since the beginning of this year, at least eight children have been
kidnapped. All of them were released only after hefty sums were paid to the criminal gangs.
Peer Chand (4) was let freed Rs.200,000, Pewish Kumar (5) for Rs.330,000, Sagar Kumar (5) for Rs.170,000, Veeraj Kumar (7) for Rs.350,000 and Mahik Kumari (3) for Rs.100,000, according to Hindus in the region.
These are the cases that got reported to the police. It is believed that the number of unreported cases is much higher.
Narrating their ordeal, Dheeraj's uncle Gyan Chand said the "boy was
kidnapped in front of us on the day of Eid.
"He was taken to the nearby village of landlord Ali Memon Khoso, which is generally a forbidden territory for others.
"When around 40 residents followed Dheeraj to Khoso's village with a
resolution not to return without saving him, police intervened and sent them back, promising the child would be returned soon," Chand said.
Later, the police told the stunned family that Khoso would not be released minus ransom and that the parents would have to raise the money.
"It was only after the media and the civil society intervened that there was pressure on the kidnappers to release the child without taking ransom," he said.
District Police Officer Kashmore Syed Asad Raza Sheikh said the boy was
found safe but shaken after a heavy contingent of police confronted the
Hindu residents of the region insist that kidnappings have increased due to worsening law and order situation.
And in this uncertain scenario, Hindu families find themselves most
Gyan Chand recalled that the crime rate in Sindh was much lower when army chief Pervez Musharraf ruled Pakistan.
All the victims of kidnapping belong to one family or have a relation to
business-oriented families, said Suhail Ahmed Abro, provincial manager of the NGO Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child.
"Since the families always agree to the conditions put forward by the
kidnappers, their children have become more vulnerable," he said, adding the criminals target them due to lack of resistance by the victims.
Hindus agree that children of other communities are also kidnapped but the rate is still high among Hindu families.
They also complained that Hindu members of parliament and provincial
legislatures have failed to protect the community, a microspic minority in Pakistan.
"Since they are not representatives of the community but selected members of ruling parties, why would they serve their people?" asked Ramesh Kumar, patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council.
Dheeraj's father Shashpal Das is overjoyed that his son has returned home safely.
Too afraid to name the kidnappers, he vowed to take his son to the dargah in Shikarpur "where his mother is waiting to receive him before their gods".
Other Hindus have had enough of the lawlessness.
Said Gyan Chand: "I will go to Karachi and sell chana-chholay on a
push-cart. I won't stay here now. This is no life."