‘Systematic and targeted’: India to Pak over demolition of Hindu minority homes in Punjab
India on Tuesday registered a strong protest with Pakistan over what it said was the “systematic and targeted” demolition of homes of the Hindu minority in Punjab province, people familiar with developments said.
A strong demarche or formal diplomatic representation was made to the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi on the demolition of houses belonging to Hindu minority at Chak 52/DB in Bahawalpur district of Pakistan’s Punjab, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
“Members of civil society in India had expressed serious concerns and anguish at the targeted and continued persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan,” one of the people said.
“They have also strongly condemned the incident wherein state authorities targeted the Hindu minority despite the occupants of the houses producing valid documents of ownership and legal relief granted against demolition,” the person added.
The Indian side conveyed its concerns and asked the Pakistan high commission to inform the relevant authorities in the Pakistan government to take “urgent remedial action”, the people said.
The Indian side also called on the Pakistan government to discharge its responsibilities by looking after the safety, security and well-being of minority communities and by protecting their rights and freedoms, the people said.
The NGO Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently concluded after an independent fact-finding mission that local authorities in Bahawalpur district were responsible for demolishing the homes of members of the Hindu minority.
“The demolition occurred despite the fact that the Hindu community – fearing this might come to pass after being threatened…on several occasions – had filed a case petitioning a senior civil judge of the Bahawalpur bench to issue an order forbidding any such action,” HRCP said in a statement issued last week.
“Even though the restraining order was issued on 20 May 2020, 25 houses were levelled and another 10 partly demolished, leaving their occupants – including young children – without any access to shelter,” the statement said.
“HRCP notes with serious concern that the Hindu community, already vulnerable as a religious minority, was targeted on grounds of faith to advance the interests of the local land mafia,” it added.