-By Chander Parkash Khatri
Sufism, secularism, pluralism, and religious tolerance are few for the unique features Sindh had always been known for around the globe. When the rest of Pakistan was devastated by sectarian genocide and targeted persecution, there was much to be learned from Sindh.
But last Saturday was the day when I found Sindh no different than many parts of KPK and Punjab in terms of extremism and radicalization. The grave of a Hindu’s dead body was exhumed, and desecrated. And for several hours it was lying on plane ground. The dead body of a Hindu man, Bhooro Bheel, who died in an accident near Pangrio, Badin, Sindh, was buried in the nearest graveyard of Haji Faqir which is one of the many graveyards in Sindh where both Hindus and Muslims are buried. The news of his burial in an Islamic graveyard spread like a wild fire throughout the whole town, and the people took no time to throng there with sticks and arms. They dug up the grave and threw his corpse out of the graveyard claiming it was against Sharia to bury any non-Muslim near Muslims’ graves. Bhooro Bheel’s body remained unprotected near the road for almost eight hours as his family and relatives were scared of the mob that dug up his grave. Later the body was buried in a local landlord’s plot.
There is a misunderstanding amongst the people, as to why his dead body was buried instead of being cremated in the first place since he was a Hindu. To clarify, let me state: not all Hindus indulge in cremation of a dead body. Some Hindu groups prefer submerging dead body in water, some prefer burying it while others have quite a few other methods, all used by Hindus as funeral process. In Sindh, many Hindus go for burying a dead body. There are hundreds of graveyards in Sindh where both Hindus and Muslims bury dead bodies. It is a sign of religious tolerance, pluralism and Sufism. Legendary Sindhi Sufi saint and poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s shrine also houses the grave of a Hindu saint named Madan Lal. There are plenty of such Hindu graves at Dargah Jhok Sharif’s graveyard. The place where Bhooro Bheel was buried has at least ten Hindus’ graves belonging to the Bheel community.
Hindus are the largest religious minority in Pakistan, and a majority of them dwell in Sindh who consider it their motherland. For the past decade, Hindus have been facing persecution like kidnappings for ransom, forced conversions of young girls; however, this incident is unique and one of its kind. Growing radicalization resulted in many incidents of desecration of Ahmadi graves in Punjab. Some graveyards belonging to the Ahmadis were desecrated in their entirety. However, this is the first time that Sindh has witnessed such a shameful incident.
People of this region have always been pluralistic and tolerant, but state sponsored seminaries which are the epicenter of hatred are making people intolerant and turning people in to zealots. This incident is clearly an indication of Sindhi Talibanization. If state institutions do not take appropriate action to curb these growing trends of radicalization, the day is not far when we will witness Sindhi Taliban, like we have Punjabi Taliban.
Every citizen of Sindh must come forward against this inhuman act, and promote the philosophy of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Bhagat Kanwarram, and Sadhu Vaswani. The philosophy of peace, harmony, Sufism, pluralism, and religious tolerance has to be not only protected but promoted in line with past traditions.
The author is a Karachi based social activist, freelance writer and currently pursuing MBA at Institute of Business Management, Karachi.