Dalit activists decry socio-economic discrimination


Scheduled caste minorities have expressed concern over the social and economic discrimination against them including organised attempts to reduce their share in the population of Pakistan in the census, forced labour, abduction of Dalit girls and then their forced conversion to Islam and illegal occupation of their places of worship.
At a meeting of Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network held at Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Centre, representatives of scheduled cast communities demanded that the share of Dalits in employment, educational scholarships, national resources, development schemes and in the parliament is inadequate and this should be improved according to their proportion in the population.
Representatives of the Dalit caste including Dr Sono Khangharani of Thardeep Rural Development Programme, Malji Meghwar, Avinash Hari of the Upgrade Minorities for Integrated Development, chairman of Scheduled Caste Rights Movement PakistanRamesh Jaipal, Karamat Ali and Zulfiqar Shah of PILER and other Dalit activists spoke on the occasion.
They decried that political parties provide assembly tickets for the minorities’ reserved seats only to superior caste Hindus, whereas the scheduled caste population is much more than the upper caste Hindu in Pakistan. They stressed on the Dalit families for getting themselves registered in the census as “Scheduled Caste” and not “Hindus” to maintain their actual population ratio in the census.
The issue of the forcible conversion and marriages of lowers caste girls with influential people and landlords in rural areas was also highlighted. In many cases, Dalit girls are forced to beg or become sex workers.
The members of the community from Karachi complained that religious places of minorities in the city particularly in Keamari and Clifton areas are being forcibly occupied by land grabbers and at many places, they are not allowed to worship. Similarly, they also complained that police are reluctant to register the murder cases of the Katchi Dalit community. In the rural areas of Sindh and southern Punjab, the graveyards of Dalits have been occupied by land grabbers.
The activists further complained about the poor health and educational facilities in many Dalit localities in Tharparkar district.