Tharparkar is a district of Sindh province in Pakistan where Hindus live in majority. Most of them are Bheels, Meghwar, Kolhi, Jogis and other marginalized communities within Hindus. The life status of these communities is extremely bad because of lack of good governance in this desert. Tharparkar is a deserted area which is why the life of most of the residents of Tharparkar merely depends on the rainfall during a year which is often expected to fall from June to mid-August. Sindh; a province of Pakistan is mainly divided into Northern and Southern Sindh in which Tharparkar is situated in Southern Sindh with some issues based on human rights violation i.e., land grabbing, abduction suicide of young generation due to lack of employment etc. Tharparkar is divided into seven Talukas i.e., Nagarparkar, Diplo, Chhachhro, Mithi, Dahli, Islamkot and Kaloiconisting a total population of about two million.Pakistan’s first largest minority in terms of population dwell there with a total of more than 60% of the total population of Tharparkar. The accurate figures of Tharparkar as per its census are not shared by the Bureau of Statistics therefore quoting here the figures of 1998 census;the total population of this district as per 1998 census is 914,291 with 45% ratio of females. Out of this total population as per Bureau of Statistics 95.64% dwell in rural areas with the overall literacy ratio of 18.3% only.
The life for human beings in rural Tharparkar is a misery in which any facility is not completely available in this region whether it is health, education, water, mobile phone signals, proper public transportation or the roads to transport. An area of about 2600 villages in Tharparkar from a total areas of 22,000 square kilometersamong which more than 70% villages has no facilities which are basic for life.
Majority of the people of Tharparkar from rural areas and marginalized groups have to migrate each year due to low rains and less agriculture production to barrage areas where agriculture is available to earn a meal for them and food for their livestock. It is very difficult for people to live without rains in Tharparkar as the economic conditions of the people of Tharparkar from rural areas are not admirable and most of them are unemployed due to less employment opportunities and zero concentration by the government. This year the drought has been declared by Sindh government in Tharparkar which is a huge problem for them. People have started migration to barrage areas with their livestock for a shorter period of two to three months to cover their needs of food for themselves and their livestock.
While interviewing some residents of Tharparkar it was informed by them that majority of the migrants to barrage areas from Thar desert are accompanied by their children and families; lock their houses and move to Badin, Hyderabad and Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas and Sanghar districts of Sindh province where water and agriculture is available. A few of the migrants from this desert move to barrage areas to earn bread and after a very short period of a month they leave their families back and then move back to the same areas or other with their livestock to make life easier for their family; they do so for the security of their families.
As per statistics of residents by NGOs a total of 1.3 million people live in Tharparkar district in the areas which are close to Indian border where the life is too difficult with rains as well; there has always been an issue of less transportation, zero medical health facilities and of course limited educational opportunities for children.
Those who migrate to barrage areas leaving Tharparkar to fulfill their needs of starvation and save money for the year also have to suffer in barrage areas as the education of their children is neglected and these children start to contribute their parents in the cultivation of crops and collecting grass for their livestock so they leave their interest of education forever and turns back. Schools in these areas have the policy to educate a child on behalf of a certificate which they often don’t have and are deprived of their classes.Cases of rape with young Hindu girls and their abduction are also reported several times by their land lords or their companions; many of these cases go unreported as they feel fear of loosing their honor; second girl or police does not file a complaint and some of the cases which are reported are later on closed by parents due to life threats. The government of Pakistan and other law enforcing agencies must think on it for a permanent solution to secure the rights of minorities. The World is working on Sustainable Development Goals which should also be our priority to make Pakistan a safe place for religious minorities living there since Pakistan was founded.
CHANDER KOLHI, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, PAKISTAN HINDU SEVA WELFARE TRUST