Thursday, May 19, 2011
Karachi : A committee comprising Hindu representatives has been formed to propose a draft on a law pertaining to Hindu marriages, officials of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said.
The seven-member committee was formed at the third meeting of the HRCP’s “Working group on communities vulnerable because of their beliefs” at a local hotel here on Thursday.
A member of the HRCP, Amarnath Motumal, said that the committee would decide on simple method of registration, and proposed that a district judge be given the responsibility to register the marriages of Hindus.
The Secretary-General of HRCP, I. A. Rehman, said that out of the many problems, a common issue Hindu couples faced while proceeding abroad pertained to giving evidence of being married.
He said registration of marriages must be compulsory for all communities.
The working group brought to light the problems being faced by the Hindu community in the absence of a law for registering their marriages.
Pushpa Kumari, hailing from Tando Jam, said that when she wanted to go to Bangkok, officials at a Nadra office kept on asking her what proof did she have to show that she was married.
Kumari was left with no other choice but to search for one of the wedding cards sent out to the guests some 20 years ago to prove to the authorities that she was married. “My bindiya or my mangal sutar — the two traits of a married Hindu woman — were not enough. There is no law in Pakistan which can prove that I am married,” she said.
Rochi Ram, a lawyer, delved into the history of Hindu marriage laws in India and said that the neighboring country had been making amendments to deal with the changing times.
An ordinance during Ayub Khan’s rule had made registration of marriages compulsory for Muslim couples but none for Hindu couples, he said.
He said that though the Hindu religion did not allow divorce, yet keeping in line with the modern times, laws on divorce, separation and alimony must also be introduced.
Another lawyer, Rajesh Kapoor, said that the marriage law was essential as women were subjected to violence by men and hence they would not be exploited.
Mangla Sharma, chairperson of the Pak-Hindu Welfare Association, corroborated and said that the absence of a law had given a free hand to those who had been involved in forceful conversions.
The discussion on the need for a law for the Hindu marriages followed a discussion on the current situation of people belonging to the smaller communities.
An Ahmedi, Munawar Ali, said that his community neither had any religious rights nor political ones.
“Today, militants are throwing threatening pamphlets at our places of worship, warning of an attack similar to last year’s. In the parliament, we have no representative, nor are we allowed to vote,” he said.
A Shia member from the Hazara community in Quetta, Muhammad Ashraf, had some more devastating accounts to share.
“My own son became a target of violence by militants. He was fired upon, and later outside the hospital where his body laid, a suicide bomber exploded himself, killing seven other people,” he said.
He said that the never-ending violence since 1999 had claimed lives of 500 men and rendered 1,000 injured.
From the Christian community, Zahid Farooq, without mentioning the word blasphemy, spoke on the law and how it was being used to settle personal scores.
“295 C is being used for enmity, and continues to pose a threat to our community. It is unfortunate that those who speak against it are silenced,” he said.
Sporting the common Sikh style, Sardar Krishan highlighted the plight of their gurdwaras, mentioning that the gurdawara in Arambagh had been sealed by the government while another in Saddar was being destroyed.