For the last few years the study on Dalit cause has been increasing widely in Pakistan. Many of the people who were unaware of the work on Dalit enthusiastically tried to know maximum of Dalit and started reading Dalit literature. Whereas there are two sides of a coin on the discussion of dalits in Pakistan. The one who are Dalits and proudly call themselves dalits irrespective of loosing friends, relatives and other social bonds. On the other there are also Dalits who feel shameful to be called as Dalits. Those who oppose the cause of being Dalit are in majority not from elite Hindu class but are also from marginalized communities within Hindu religion.
Let me simply define the word Dalit and Scheduled Caste in Pakistani perspective. Dalit is a term widely used for marginalized communities irrespective of religion in Pakistan. Whereas Scheduled caste is as per the constitution of Pakistan which clarifies that 42 castes which are Kolhis, Bheels, Meghwars, Jogi, Oads, Kalal etc are marginalized within Hinduism and are pronounced as Scheduled caste. It is therefore clear that all the castes which fall under Scheduled Caste are Dalits but all the castes which are marginalized outside the boundary of Hindus are Dalits but are not called Scheduled Caste with reference to the Constitution of Pakistan.
The definition of Dalit in Pakistan is linked with Hindu religion and is expressed as a hatred word by anti Dalit group who are not ready to read Dalit literature. Dalit movement in Pakistan is considered as the anti Hindu movement by several so called liberals. Dalit movement has explored several facts about the liberals of Pakistan who call themselves as humans and consider society as equal. There are some human right defenders working in Pakistan who used to claim themselves as humans started defending Arya samaj in Pakistan and stood stronger than Barhmins for defending Brahmins.
The political empowerment for Dalits is strongly needed in Pakistan and every political party must give space to the marginalized communities for their representation in provincial and national assembly. Several communities like Jogi, Bagri, Oad etc exist in a large number in Pakistan and want to be represented but their issues are even not filed in police stations due to poor economic and political background.
Scheduled caste communities are the base of Hindus in Pakistan but upper caste Hindus who represent them in provincial and national assembly do not respect them, do not raise voice for their issues. Majority of scheduled caste in Pakistan live a highly vulnerable life with improper education, poor health facility and unemployment for youth. In a society where such marginalized communities have been highly ignored; it is a time they are raising for their voices to be heard. Instead muting their voice to be unheard we must accompany them to be heard so they get their rights as per the constitution of Pakistan.
Chander Kolhi, Research Associate, Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust