As the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) predicts more monsoon rains in the coming days, low caste Hindus in Sindh’s flood affected areas face discrimination when it comes to getting relief, says a report released by Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.
The worst victims of rains and breaches in a monsoon-swollen Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) in Badin district — the Pakistani low caste Hindus (Dalits) of the districts were denied to get in to relief camps for being ‘untouchables.’
In the last five weeks when monsoon-swollen drains and LBOD burst its banks and led to massive flooding, religious discrimination continued to run deeper than the floodwaters.
Despite torrential rains, majority of these Hindu Dalits in Badin district continue to live in open sky as they were not allowed accommodation in the private/self-built relief camps of Muslims.
What added to the tragedy was the federal government’s ban on NGOs and international donors to work in these areas for ‘security reasons.’ As the government itself initiated relief operation much later, the many religious organisations that started relief operation in Badin have completely ignored these Dalits or Harijan (Children of God).
Chanesar Bheel, a Dalit farmer and resident of Goth Gomando Bheel, Taluka Golarchi [Shaheed Fazil Rahu] is one of around 700 Dalits of his village who have no choice but to live in their submerged village with his nine children.
“Our village is between the two drains and during rains both burst and inundated our village from either side, so we rushed to a nearby relief camps set inside a government school. The tenants did not allow us to live inside the camp, so we came here and started living under open sky,” Bheel told media.
Bheel said the people living inside the camps had told them that they are outcastes, so they are not allowed to live with Muslims. His village comprises on 80 households with 700 population and all are Dalits.
A civil society activist, Ameer Mandhro sharing his views said, “This is not the only village of Dalits in the district that have no roof on their heads but there are countless other Dalit villages including villages on Khoski road, Seerani, Lonwari Shrief and other areas where Dalits are living this way because they are not allowed a place in the relief camps.”
Same happened with Pirbhu Kolhi and 50 other residents of his village, who rushed to a relief camp set inside a government school in Tando Bagho, were not allowed to live in the camp after heavy rains.
However, some nice folks allowed them to live inside a camp and allotted one isolated class room to a few Dalit flood victims. As Kolhi said, ”The isolated class room is away from the main building where only two families are living while the rest of the village is living in open despite continued heavy rains.” He said some philanthropists came to provide food in the relief camp, “but we are not given the food.”
In the emergency situation the role of the minister for minorities affairs Mohan Lal Kohistani seeks attention. The situation remains tough for the PPP-led government, which not only hails from Sindh but always claim to work indiscriminately as well.