The issue of forced conversions of young girls belonging to our Hindu community, is, unfortunately, a recurring issue in Pakistan. Here is how the cycle usually goes: blasphemy allegations, riots, vandalization of temples, cases of abduction in Sindh begin. The government tries to assure that it will not happen again. It happens again. The cycle repeats. And so on.
However, after the Ghotki incident, people are aggressively demanding to arrest Mian Mithu – who, they believe, is the mastermind behind all these cases that wreak havoc for religious minorities in Sindh every other day.
But who is Mian Mithu and why is he so powerful?
Governments come and go. But Mian Mithu is constant. If one party denies him election ticket, the other grants him. Despite being seen leading riots against religious minorities multiple times, the authorities still struggle to arrest, or even verbally condemn the atmosphere of hatred and extremism that he continues to strengthen.
While hardcore Islamists celebrate him as Ghotki’s hero, his name sparks fear for Sindh’s minorities as they believe him to be responsible for forced conversions and abductions of young Hindu girls.
Pir of Barchundi Sharif, Mian Abdul Haq, known as Mian Mithu, belongs to Sindh’s religiously and politically influential family. He was also Pakistan People Party (PPP)’s elected representative in 2008. However, the party disassociated itself from Mithu after the Rinkle Kumari case.
The story of Rinkle Kumari:
Mian Mithu’s name first rose to national and global prominence in 2012, when a young woman named Rinkle Kumari was abducted and forcefully converted to Islam. Rinkle was teenager daughter of a local teacher, Nand Laal. She was married to a man named Naveed Shah, who allegedly was linked with Barchundi Sharif.
According to the community, Mithu was the mastermind behind Rinkle’s abduction. They believed that he is instigating Muslim men to forcefully marry Hindu women and convert them, promising them protection in return.
After intense protests and riots, Rinkle was produced in front of the public eye. She declared herself a Muslim in front of the court.
“Mitho triumphantly led the new convert from the courthouse, parading her before thousands of cheering supporters.”New York Times
Rinkle’s father knocked every door for justice but failed. His family was threatened and had to ultimately flee Ghotki, finding refuge in a Gurdwara in Lahore.
For some strange reason, despite his controversial past, Mithu has always been political and military elite, which would raise questions in any sane mind.
After Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) threw him out and denied him election ticket, he was seen meeting Pakistan Tehreek i Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan. However, after the public reacted, Khan denied his possible alliance with PTI.
As a result, he only got 69 votes in elections, as opposed to 59,000 he received in 2008. Mithu blamed PPP leadership, saying he is paying the price for ‘serving Islam’. He said that then CM Sindh Qaim Ali Shah asked him to choose between Mullahism and politics.
”I told him I am a Muslim first, then a Pakistani and then a politician. I cannot quit serving Islam”.
According to reports of a Sindi journalist Ibrahim Kumbhar, 11-years-old Monika Kumari was abducted last year from Mithu’s Ghotki. She was discovered from Hala (near Hyderabad). However, it is said to be an aftermath of Ghotki’s Hindu community’s support for PPP representative Ahmed Ali Mahar.
However, the question remains: despite him being a symbol of horror for Pakistan’s Hindu women, being named in countless cases of kidnapping, facilitating forced marriages and forced conversions, and video evidence of him leading riots vandalizing temples – what makes him so powerful that he still roams around freely? What makes him so fearless?
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