June 9th, 2021
By Asim Ahmed Khan
The mysterious murder of a Hindu trader from District Khuzdar’s Wadh Tehsil (Balochistan) was not yet resolved, when the Hindu community there has now started to receive threatening letters, asking them to impose a complete ban on the entry of women in their shops.
Hameeda Noor, a women’s rights activist based in Balochistan says that the situation spells trouble for basic human rights as well as poses a danger of security.
“These pamphlets are a clear violation of the basic human rights of both women and minority communities of the area,” she says. “I think this is a very serious and dangerous development, and such declarations are contrary to our Baloch culture and our religious teachings.”
Not long ago Ashok Kumar a young Hindu businessman was shot and killed inside his shop by unidentified assailants. According to police sources, the businessman had refused to pay extortion money to a local gang because of which he was attacked inside his shop and shot multiple times. He was shifted to the hospital immediately after the incident but he succumbed to his wounds.
Following this tragic incident, traders from all religious communities held protest rallies demanding justice for the slain businessman. Protestors blocked the man Karachi-Quetta national highway and demanded swift justice for Ashok.
However, this is not the first time a Hindu businessman has been shot in Khuzdar.
Just a few months before Ashok’s murder, a Hindu businessman, Nanak Ram, was killed in the Wadh area also for not paying extortion money to local gangs. In a similar incident, another Hindu businessman from the Hub area of Balochistan was shot and killed along with his son. Earlier, a Hindu businessman along with his son was killed in the Hub area of Balochistan while another was killed in Chaman in what seems to be a series of targeted killings of Hindus in the province.
Khuzdar is home to more than 6,000 members of the Hindu community almost 90 per cent of whom are involved in the trading business. Local Hindu businessmen assert that the continuation of such attacks and the impunity with which they are carried out has made their entire community feel unsafe.
“What did we do? Why are we being killed? I want to request the state and the government to ensure the safety of our community members,” asks a Hindu trader on condition of anonymity.
A high-level meeting over the murder of a Hindu businessman was held in Khuzdar under the chairmanship of Provincial Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langu and Chief Secretary Balochistan. The Balochistan Home Minister directed law enforcement agencies to step up patrolling and immediately arrest those involved in the incident.
“Over 90 per cent of the Baloch Hindu community is involved in the trading business. And such incidents are not only causing loss of life they are also destroying the business environment of the area. Our community now feels very insecure and many members are resorting to migration after these events” says Kamal Kumar, a human rights activist and representative of the Hindu community.
People belonging to the Hindu community have lived in Balochistan for centuries. Before the deteriorating situation in Balochistan in 2002, they were living a peaceful life in most areas but incidents of kidnapping for ransom that started in 2002 and other similar events have now become a regular occurrence especially after 2008. Most of these incidents have taken place in Quetta, Kalat, and Naseerabad areas.