The month of Ramzan is here and the peaceful are already at their antics. Sadly the condition is worse for the Hindus who are a minority in Pakistan. The laws are misused in Pakistan to harass and persecute the minorities specifically. Multiple cases have come forward whereby these “laws” were implemented to brutally beat up the Hindus. Living in the traumatised situation already, the Hindus have no other option but to hope that they get spared.
During his presidency from 1977 to 1988, Pakistan’s sixth president, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, enacted legislation to that effect.
The Ethram-e-Ramzan Ordinance 1981, billed as a regulation to protect the purity of Ramzan, restricts Muslim inhabitants from eating or drinking in public places, and all hotels from offering food during the fasting hours. Cinemas are not permitted to show films before or soon after Iftar.
Throughout the previous 40 years, the legislation has been amended multiple times, with greater penalties. For example, in 2017, a department within the Religious Affairs Ministry authorised a modification that raised hotel owners’ penalty from Rs 500 to Rs 50,000.
Exceptions have been allowed for hospitals, railway stations, and schools over the years, although with limitations, as a result of litigation and public pleas.
Along with the country’s blasphemy laws, the Ramzan regulations are commonly employed for harassing residents and targeting minorities.
Arrests of civilians for eating, drinking, or selling food in public are common. Arrests are frequently made in response to police searches at markets or complaints from locals.
In 2014, the solitary cinema theatre reported In Islamabad, closing down indefinitely sparked outrage. Authorities stormed the mall housing the movie hall because a film was being shown around Iftar time.
Hindus Under Attack
In the most recent incident, police in Sindh province’s Hindu-populated area were caught on camera this week manhandling and assaulting shopkeepers for cooking food. One of the men is seen pleading with the police that he is a Hindu. During Ramzan, we do not operate the dining service indoors.”
The cops, on the other hand, pummelling them and detained roughly a dozen individuals. A video shows a cop compelling a Hindu dhaba owner to wear a murti of his god and swear off serving food.
The Sindh Human Rights Commission took notice and requested an investigation after the footage of the event became viral on social media. Reports claim that the Station in charge has been suspended.
Many years ago, an 80-year-old Hindu man from Sindh’s Ghotki area was beaten up by police officers for selling food during fasting hours. Police allegedly threw Gokal Das to the ground and assaulted him severely. Social media users shared images of an injured Gokal Das with blood spots on his clothing. The event was reported from the village of Hayat Pitafi.
Progressive voices in Pakistan have often expressed worry about the rules. They called them unconstitutional and prone to abuse. The brunt is borne particularly in further oppressing minorities, as witnessed in the Ghotki case. Ironically, no placards by Human Rights are seen anywhere to fight for the plight of the Hindus.