We never leave our Balochistan Land: Maharaj Lakhmir Gir Chand
I want to appeal the international community, United Nations, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations to come forth to help us.
Interviewed by: Hasrat Iqbal (Specially interviewed for Bolan Voice Magazine)
Pakistan is on 3rd number in human rights violating countries list as it is termed as one of the failed states through out of the world. Minorities including Hindus, Christians Sikhs and others are facing mess and are undergoing and hard-hitting times of history all over Pakistan. Makers of Pakistan made a strip in the flag for the minorities in country but it seems to have been forgotten that there are minorities in Pakistan. Minorities whether Hindus, Sikhs, Christian, Buddhists or the others are facing maltreatment in this peace of the world. If it is the Asiaa BiBi’s case or Hindu community’s’ abduction for ransom case or 14 years old Christian girl Rimsha’s case government and the establishment have shown justifying stance on these. State of Pakistan proudly claims that she would not let any injustice happen with minorities, but reality is entirely different from avers. It seems as if religious extremism has been accepted as the policy of government and its law enforcement agencies.
Recently, three people from Hindu community have been abducted from Kalat for ransom and they are still missing. And more painfully while I am compiling this interview one more Hindu named Jagdeesh is reported to have been abducted from Khuzdar Balochistan. He was head at Khuzdar temple. Provincial government remains criminally inactive. Hindu community on every ground protested to recover the abducted people but government and its law enforcement agencies turned deaf to them. In order to go deeper into the problem we approached to interview Maharaaj Lakhmi Gir Chand (religious head of Hindus in Kalat). He is organizer of Kaali Mandar (temple) affairs in Kalat Balochistan. Lakhmi Chand himself was abducted some months earlier and was kept in custody for 95 days. He was released after ninety (90) lakh (9 Million) rupees amount of ransom was paid. While confirmed sources say the ransom was more than 1 crore rupees.
(Aberration Blv for Bolan Voice and LC for Lakhmi Chand)
Blv: Please Sain inform us about the history of Hindus in this region? When did they arrive here? It is said that Hindus once ruled Kalat State?
Sain Lakhmi Chand: Hindus ruled Kalat state before Khans and Dehwars’ regime. Sewa was the 1st ruler of Hindus in Kalat State. Hindus here in Kalat, are said migrated from Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Murad Jamali. Sewa had taken oath from his masses that they would not use any weapon against them. They were not allowed to use guns, swords, arms and ammunitions; even they were not allowed to use stones as weapons against the King.
Dodokis, a tribe of Dehwar came to Kalat during Sewa’s govern. Dodokis were by nature quarrelsome but they also were bound not to us2e weapons against the King, when they stayed in Kalat. They were not happy with Sewa and wanted to eliminate him from throne. They invited him to a feast as to meet his masses of Dodaki tribe. Dodakis had discovered a strange weapon to kill the King. They had baked dodis (hard type of breads baked by tribes man in mountainous areas by covering the stones with flour) to entertain the King. Dodakis had baked plenty of dodis that night. They attacked Sewa with dodis and killed him in an unfamiliar way. This tribe is known as Dodakis, after this incident. They ruled on Kalat state until Khans came from Afghanistan and defeated them. Khans ruled Kalat for some six hundred years. In 1838, Britain attacked Kalat and bound Khan of Kalat to remain Loyal to the British and not to resist.
Blv: At that time which areas of Kalat did the Hindus Rule?
LC: Sewa and Hindu rule were only limited to the capital of Kalat state. Sewa had his administrators in different areas of Balochistan like Sibi, Dadar, Dera Murad Jamali, and Dera Ghazi Khan. According to Hindus’ calendar and historians it was 29th century when Hindus ruled on Kalat and other parts of Balochistan.
Blv: Did Hindus of Kalat and Balochistan have any relations with those in United India (Subcontinent)?
LC: Yes, we had strong relations with Hindus of United India (Subcontinent). Our ancestors would often go to attend religious ceremonies. Hindu pilgrims of United India would come to attend worship ceremonies here in Kalat. In recent times we would go to India but due to strict VISA policies, now it is difficult to visit India. With the passage of time these relations fainted and our visits get less frequent
Blv: In which areas of Balochistan Hindus are populated?
LC: Hindus have been living on this land for centuries. Hindu community is populated in all over Balochistan and we are established in all spheres of life. Majority of our community lives in Kalat, Khuzdar, Mastung, Sibi, Quetta, D.G Khan and Dera Murad Jamali. Hindus in Balochistan live like a community and are populated in every district of Balochistan.
Blv: Did Hindus from Balochistan migrate to India after partition in 1947?
LC: No, Hindu community remained in Balochistan as we were settled socially and economically. At the time of partition there were 0.2 Million Hindus in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan. However Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmad Yar Khan had promised to protect the interests of Hindus community. He pledged to defend Hindus’ rights and human rights of this community. He did not let us migrate to India.
Blv: How many sacred places are of Hindus in Balochistan?
LC: There are several places that are sacred for Hindus in Balochistan but most famous among them are:
1. Kaali Mandar (Temple) in Kalat.
2. Hinglaaj Mandar (Temple) in Lasbela district, on the bank of Hangol River.
3. Jhoolay Laal known as Khawja Khizr by Muslims.
Blv: Tell us something about Kaali Mandar (Temple) and Hinglaaj?
LC: Kaali is a religious personality and most respected among Hindus. Kaali was born in Balochistan. Kaali Mandar (Temple) is a unique temple of Hindus in all over the world. Its main branch is in Kalat Balochistan, and the second part is in Kalkata India. Some historians say that name of Kalat is derived from Kaali’s name.
Hinglaaj is one of the nine sisters most respected in Hinduism. Hinglaaj is said to be the religious head of Hindus all over the World. There is a temple named as Hinglaaj Mandar (Temple) in Lasbela district, Balochistan. Many pilgrims and followers of Hinduism come to visit Kaali Mandar and Hinglaaj Mandar. Many other tombs situated in Balochistan of Hindus.
Blv: Please tell us the exact number of Hindus, living in Balochistan? Which areas of Balochistan are most important for Hindus?
LC: Well, total number of Hindus in Pakistan is some 2.6 Million (20 Lakh 60 thousands), and 0.56 Million (5 lakh 60 thousand) of them live in Kalat, Khuzdar, Mastung, Sibi, D.G Khan, D.M Jamali, and Quetta and in some other parts of Balochistan. While 1.0 Million (10 lakh Hindus) live in Thar Parker and other parts of Sindh province. Quetta and Kalat are most important and populated places for Hindus.
Blv: What sort of relations Muslims and Hindus have had before partition in 1947?
LC: Muslims and Hindus enjoyed amicably relations before partition, rather till 1970’s we had peaceful and good relations. Hatred increased after General Zia’s Islamization thoughts and the narrow mindset and bias about other minorities started, as well religious extremism burst out through out country. Sunni Shia feuds were erupted intentionally and sponsored by government and security agencies. Qadianies were declared non-Muslim by constitution. American sponsored, Afghan Jihad was commenced, and hence these added fuel to the fire. This religious extremism and intolerance led to devastating situations and we still receive the short comings of what we had planted in 1970’s.
Few years back we used to attend weddings and funeral ceremonies of Muslims and they would come to attend those of ours. But now we are scared and limited to Hindu mohalla (colony), we shut our shops soon after sun set due to worse law and situations.
Blv: What do you think what reasons are behind all these?
LC: There existed no hatred between Muslims and Hindus it was planted consciously by security agencies and the establishment. This led to extreme hatred among all sects and religions.
Blv: Do you set the religion responsible for riots, rivalry among the humans through out the world or it is another factor that is responsible for all this misery?
LC: I think no religion in the world preaches intolerance, extremism or rivalry. Every religion whether Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, or Buddhism preaches peace, prosperity and humanity. I think religion of humanity is the best religion. There are some extremist people in every religion that need to be condemned on every ground. We are all humans and branches of one tree of humanity.
Blv: Are you Hindus people free in your religious practices in Balochistan?
LC: Yes, we are totally free in practicing our religion here in Balochistan. Baloch and Baloch leaders have never tried to dominate on us and on our religious beliefs.
Blv: Are you safe here, If not so why?
No religion in the world preaches intolerance, extremism or rivalry.
We were safe, but now, we are living in perilous circumstances. In fact, I myself was held for 95 days for ransom by unknown kidnapers.
LC: Few years back we were quite safe in Balochistan, but by now, we are living in perilous circumstances. In fact, I myself was held for 95 days for ransom by unknown kidnapers. It was international news but neither provincial government nor federal government came out to recover me. Actually, I was released when the ransom amount of 9.0 Million (90 lakh) rupees was paid by the Hindu community. Recently 3 Hindus were abducted in the Holy month of Ramzan for ransom. They are still missing and we do not know in what conditions they are.
Police and administration as always kept on making lame excuses.
Reason, why we are not safe is that government is not interested to safeguard us. For 95 days they did nothing to recover me what else can we expect from corridor of power. They are not interested in this issue and this is turning out to be a human crises.
Blv: Why is Hindus community leaving Balochistan? How many families have left so far? Don’t you see any other solution for the problem, because migration is painful process?
LC: Well, as you said that migration is a painful process, but we do not see any other way out for our problems. Hindus through out Pakistan are not safe as 700 families have fled to India. We are not safe in here; our people are abducted for money, they are tortured during seizure, and threatened to death if the ransom money is not paid.
So far 50 to 60 families have departed from Balochistan. This may increase if the situations remain alike.
LC: Well, whom, we can complain except the government and the higher authorities or Baloch political parties. Government of Pakistan has failed to protect the minorities in country. Whether it is Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or any other minorities all are facing the misery situations. Christian minorities are teased on the name of blasphemy while Hindus are abducted for ransom and the Sikhs are threatened to death by militant and banned organizations. Sacred places of all minorities are no safer in Pakistan.
Baloch have ever remained friendly with Hindus. They always cooperated with us in hard times. They came at every strike with us, supported our cause. Almost all Baloch tribes have shown their support and assured us to help recover our loved ones.
Government has always created problems for the minorities and they knowingly do not come to help us.
Blv: A separatist movement is in under way in Balochistan; if Balochistan is separated so will you stay in Balochistan or migrate?
LC: We have been living in Balochistan for centuries and we never ever can leave our homeland. We are determined to live and die in Balochistan if it is separated. Baloches have been like a brother for us and we hope they will remain brothers onwards as well. They can come to our help sooner then others. Balochistan is our country and we have sacrificed lives for it. When Pakistani forces attacked Royal palace of Khan of Kalat the first martyred was a Hindus named as Bachaa Raam and we are proud of him.
Blv: Ever anarchy leads to change or new set up…. Do you see any change to happen in nearer future?
LC: Current circumstances point out to a change because in all over Pakistan there are anarchy, poor law and order situations, refusal of rights, and violation of human rights, kill and dump process and biggest issue of missing persons. It is quite possible that Balochistan be separated or at least there may be referendum under United Nations supervision.
Blv: Were you more comfortable before 1947 or are you more comfortable now?
LC: It is human nature that he thinks the past time was better then present, but to be very honest we were more comfortable before 1947 in Kalat’s Khanede dynasty. We were never threatened and most important thing is that Khan of Kalat would punish those who harmed the Hindus community. Even Khan of Kalat would come to our functions personally and he encouraged us in quandaries. We would decorate our shops especially on Eids and other occasions. We were fearless and independent in all walks of life. But today circumstances are totally changed, as our people are dreaded and we can’t even come out of our homes after sun set.
Blv: Do you want to say any thing to the international community through Bolan Voice?
LC: I want to appeal the international community, United Nations, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations to come forth to help us. I also want to say them that please treat us like humans. United Nations should play its part to calm the situations and finish the prevailing anxiety among Hindus minorities in Pakistan.