Syed Mansoor Agha
On 9 August 2020, eleven members of a Hindu migrant family – two men, four women, and five children – were found dead in a village farm of Jodhpur (Rajasthan). The family had migrated in parts from Sindh (Pakistan) in 2015 to evade “atrocities” there with the hope for a blissful and honourable life here, but find themselves in a web of miseries which pushed them to commit suicide.
SP (Rural) Rahul Barhat told PTI, “All the members appeared to have committed suicide.” DM Jodhpur Mr. Inderjeet Singh marked the incident as “extremely sensitive.” He told, “There was neither any injury mark on any of the bodies nor any evidence of foul play.” This dispelled doubts of any external hand.
However, investigation in the case seems moving with the snail speed. The ‘immensely sensitive case’ also did not attract the media. No ‘investigative journalism’ was visible as witnessed in the case of a film actor’s suicide or in demolition a part of film actress’s office in Mumbai.
The GoI has assured ‘safe-haven’ for ‘persecuted Hindu migrants’ in this country, but the case failed to attract attention till Pakistan stepped in on 24 September after Indian PM addressed in UNGA on 22 September. In Islamabad, a protest was organised in front of the Indian High Commission which drew the attention of world media and added one more thorny issue puncturing our national reputation and further tarnishing our declining human rights records.
On Friday, 2 October, Mr. Anurag Srivastava, Spokesman of the MEA remarked in New Delhi “Unfortunately, what has happened is that this incident has been exploited by the Pakistani establishment to further its own anti-India propaganda. A staged protest was held in Islamabad ostensibly by people who claimed to belong to the Hindu community,” he said.
Reportedly the dead migrants’ relatives have held small rallies in Sindh (Pakistan) earlier in August, but notice was taken after Islamabad protest. We will not go into the details of mudslinging. Our concern is about the safety of human life and dignity in our country. From the reports on the brief of MEA, it seems that authorities have not yet reached to the bottom of the curse and causes of mass-suicide of a family, which had come here with the dreams of a dignified life after feeling assured from the silver-lining in the statements of our political big mouths.
In this case the family belonging to the Bhil community lived in Village Tajan Dahri, District Sanghar (Sindh) and was engaged in farming with other Bhil families on a 40-acre farm of Prof. Mahmood’s family, who lives in Hyderabad. The head of the family Boduram was active in local politics as well as in State Politics under the banner of Awami Tehreek. His two daughters were trained nurses. Elder one Lakshmi (38), also a nurse, was an influential personality. She was the President of the Sangad Unit of Sindh Freedom Movement (Sindhiani Tehreek). Her other sisters Priya, and Suman were also active with her. It means that it was not marginalised family. And they had left their home with big dreams in their eyes.
Hindi Daily, ‘Bhaskar’ in a detailed report on 30th August had exposed the racket abusing the migrated Hindu families from Pakistan. A batch of the Boduram family including the parents, brothers, and children arrived first on a tourist visa. The three sisters came after they have settled in a Jodhpur migrant colony after getting a long term stay visa.
The Bhaskar noted, “the network of agents and guarantors was waiting for them (girls) as vultures to take advantage of their situation.” As per rule, the migrant willing to stay as refugees is required an Indian guarantor. A leader of the migrant colony, Sunil Bhati stood as the guarantor. The family moved to a colony of refugees in Anganwa. The most shocking point of the story is that the colony head, who was the guarantor of the family, “wanted to control the three sisters just like their sisters-in-law, who had arrived earlier.” The sisters-in-law, related as aunt and niece, were not living with their husbands.
Under the pressure, “the three sisters were forced to marry deaf and dumb men.” Just before the lockdown, the family hired a field in Village Dechu, 120 Km from Jodhpur, for farming and illegally moved there. As per rules refugees are not allowed to move beyond 40 Km. The family, facing poverty, was caught in another problem when the visas of three sisters and their parents expired in June during lock-down. Their applications for extension were rejected as “the guarantor showed displeasure.”
The reports indicate other pressures also. The names of several migrants/ refugees are also mentioned as ‘agents’ in the story. Reportedly displeasure of sisters-in-law was also made their stay here difficult. At one point police had to intervene and an officer had threatened the family to send them back to Pakistan.
At this point, the family had three options. Surrender to dictates of the “vultures”; back to Pakistan or embrace the death. What an irony Lakshmi, the fearless fighter in Pakistan, became cowardice in India and led the entire family to death. She preferred to embrace death.
On August 30, IGP Jodhpur Range Navjyoti Gogoi confirmed to the ‘Opindia’, the family had committed suicide, the case is sensitive. Lakshmi made a video and wrote everything in her diary. The police are using them in the investigation. He also said that several pieces of evidence prove that local leaders and police abused the family.”
Omendra Ratnu of Nimitekam, the NGO which is involved with the matters of Pakistani Hindu immigrant’s in Rajasthan denied any connection with congress or the Jihadi link. He insisted that the family committed suicide because of personal matters. Keeping in mind these facts this is clearly a case of culpable homicide. Police should take action to assure the refugees about their security.
It is unfortunate that much was said in the sympathy of “plight of Hindus” in neighbouring countries and hands were extended to welcome them without proper arrangements for their livelihood and safety from the exploitation. Government rules also created hurdles and caused them to push them in the hands of abusers. The matter should be looked expeditiously before any other tragedy. Norms and rules simplified and full care till they are established in the society.