The state of untouchables
THIS refers to the letter ‘Discrimination against low-caste Hindus’ (Oct 20) by Vijesh Kumar. The worst sufferers as a result of partition are not the Hindus or the Muslims, in general, but the lower caste Hindus left behind in Pakistan and to some extent their Muslim counterparts in India.
Because of caste system practised among Hindus, their condition is far worse. My friend Amit Chakraborty, a member of a Pakistan-India friendship forum, visited Lahore a decade ago. He revealed in a blog that ‘Valmiki’ communities are not allowed cremation in a ground meant for upper caste Hindus.
Caste prejudice is, thus, not eliminated even on death. No wonder the Hindus on the lower social hierarchy are embracing Christianity or Islam.
Historically, the present-day Muslims or Christians in this part of the world are not the sole result of forced conversion. Many found the assurance of equality from the invaders or the colonists.
In India, the scheduled caste people at least have job reservation in public offices. Pakistan, the country that had been created to address the aspirations of the people on the line of equality, has been totally ignorant and indifferent to the people living on the fringes of society. It does not even recognise any such discrimination. Pakistan ensures a double whammy for them. They are Hindus and so are prone to be assaulted.
Besides, they are alien within their own community. Let there be a commission to address the problems faced by the ‘untouchables’ in Pakistan.