Friday, January 07, 2011
‘‘ As many as 27 families have sent their applications to the high commission,’’ Pakistan human rights ministry’s regional director Saeed Ahmed Khan said in Quetta on Sunday. Khan said Hindus have been living in Baluchistan for centuries, but many have been forced to flee due to kidnapping of several members of the community.
The province’s Hindus took to streets in Khuzdar, Quetta, Kalat and Naushki towns and blocked a highway linking it to Karachi to protest their spiritual leader Laxmi Chand Garji’s kidnapping along with four companions — Sajan Das, Ram Chand , Babo Lal and Venod Kumar — last week. The 82-year-old leader heads Qalat’s Kali Mandir.
Protests rage in Baluchistan as spiritual leader Laxmi Chand Garji kidnapped along with 4 companions Hindu families in region say kidnapping and extortion have become routine, allege that cops support kidnappers
Kidnappers backed by police, says leader
The kidnappers later released three of Garji’s companions. Sajan Das said the kidnappers blindfolded and tied their hands before dropping them off at a deserted place.
Baluchistan DIG Hamid Shakil said around 78 groups of criminals operate in the province. ‘‘ These gangs are mostly responsible for kidnapping for ransom and target killing,’’ he said.
Addressing the protesters outside Khuzdar Press Club, a community leader said the government has failed to protect the life and property of the minority, particularly those belonging to the minority community. ‘‘ The incidents of kidnapping had become routine and it seems that the gangsters have been given a free hand,’’ he said. He alleged that police and other law enforcement agencies were supporting the kidnappers .
Baluchistan chief minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani said he has directed the cops to secure Garji’s release at the earliest. ‘‘ I believe it’s an incident of kidnapping for ransom and doesn’t have any religious overtones,’’ Raisani said.
Pakistan has a Hindu population of about 25 lakh and of these Baluchistan has about 40,000. Like Hindus in Sindh, most Hindus there work as traders and small businessmen. They speak the local dialect and follow local tribal customs.
NOTE : Slain tribal chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti , who led a separatist movement in the province, awarded the tribal name of Bugti to Hindus living in his area. He also got a local Hindu leader, Arjun Dass Bugti, elected as the province’s deputy speaker.