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Culturally and politically orphaned: Sindhi Hindus- a directionless community

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Ashmodhrav Vaswani
Ashmodhrav Vaswani
Student of Finance & Accounting. I enjoy reading and writing literature on Economics, Culture, and History. Write to me at [email protected]

We are to observe the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day on the 14th of August. While thanking our Prime Minister to mark the day as a reminder to the nation of the sufferings and sacrifices of fellow Indians during the partition of our country in 1947 on grounds of religion. I demand attention to the fact that the resultant adversities are not over and have been an onrush all this while.

While we keep reading and hearing about the prevalent brutalities against Hindus in other parts of the subcontinent, the pitiable plight of Sindhi Hindus has been much less talked about in the national discourse. According to the 1951 census of India, some 7,76,000 Sindhi Hindus migrated to the post-partition geography of our country to avoid religious persecution and conversion.

The community has since grown in numbers to around 1.7 million as per the 2011 census. This growth in numbers can somewhat be attributed to the continuous migration of Sindhi Hindus to India even today. In 2014, a Pakistan Hindu Council official informed the Pakistan National Assembly that around 5000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year. Interestingly, over 90% of Hindus in Pakistan come from the Sindh Province.

From a historical perspective, Sindh was put under siege and invaded by the Islamist Ummayad Caliphate. Maharaja Dahir, the last Hindu king of Sindh, defeated the Arabs twice in the twin battles of Debal before losing out to Qasim in the battle of Aror in 711 AD. A severe onslaught, persecution, and conversion of Hindus and Buddhists of Sindh followed. Over the years, Sindhi Hindus lost political patronage, script, culture, and religion.

When Independence came 1236 years later in 1947, the Sindhi Hindus were made subject to displacement to save what remained of their culture and religious identity. Unlike Punjab and Bengal, Sindh was not partitioned. Despite Hindus having a 26% share of the population and a numeric majority in almost all key urban centers of Sindh at the time of partition, the entire state was given to the newly formed Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

In 2019, a filed investigation report by the Human rights Commission of Pakistan reaffirmed an unpleasant reality — minorities in Pakistan live under constant fear of persecution. According to another report from Movement for Solidarity and Peace, about 1000 Non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam every year in Pakistan. According to the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted, raped, converted by force to Islam, and married off to their abductors every month. The same can be confirmed in Pakistan’s 2017 Universal Periodic Review to the UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Today, a vast majority of temples in Sindh are in deplorable condition, there are regular mob attacks, and some have simply been abandoned. In 2014, the All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement (PHRM) published a survey report. The survey report found that 95% of the temples in Pakistan since 1990 were destroyed or damaged. Only 11 temples remained operational in the Sindh Province, where according to the 2017 Census of Pakistan, Hindus still number about 4.2 million or 8.73% of the population.

However, in India, the anxieties of the much dispersed Sindhi Hindu community largely pertain to the loss of Sindhi language skills among the youth of the community. The Sindhi Hindus in India are a confused people, with no unanimity among scholars about the original script used by Sindhi speakers. Disputes over script still endure after 75 years of partition. The opinions range from Perso-Arabic to Devanagari to Brahmi scripts.

Even in religious practice the Sindhi Hindus stand divided with some practicing doctrines of Sufism, some Sikhism, some drawing inspiration from traditional schools of Hinduism, and some a mix of all. This cultural bankruptcy can be attributed to the loss of political identity for over 1200 years.

Often dubbed one of the most successful business communities in the world by popular media, the future of 6 million Sindhi Hindus depends on how well they deploy their resources. Whether they further deteriorate as just another hollow directionless community or reclaim their rich cultural heritage is for time to tell.

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Ashmodhrav Vaswani
Ashmodhrav Vaswani
Student of Finance & Accounting. I enjoy reading and writing literature on Economics, Culture, and History. Write to me at [email protected]
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