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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Kalash girl Reena’s husband booked for her murder, a forcible conversion from 2016 that media helped whitewash: Pakistan

A murder case was registered after a Kalash woman was found dead in her house in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan with bullet injuries. Initially, her husband had claimed she had committed ‘suicide’ and police and Pakistani media accepted this at face value.

However, rights activists from Chitral district took up the issue after the Kalash woman identified as Reena died due to bullet injuries in her house in Hazarkhwani. They contested the husband’s claim and stated that Reena was murdered. They also moved the court to lodge a murder case. Finally, the murder case was lodged in the Rehman Baba Police Station against the suspect, and police have finally woken up to investigate the matter.

Reena had got married to one Saifullah of Hazarkhwani in 2016 after converting to Islam. Activists at the time had alleged that she was yet another victim of the forceful conversion and marriage of minority women epidemic that plagues Pakistan. However, once Reena gave a statement that she converted to Islam “of her own free will”, the entire episode was labelled a non-issue and put to rest.

The Kalash are a micro-minority, numbering just a few thousands, who live in the Chitral valley. They follow a polytheistic religion which has many elements in common with Hindu Dharma; some consider them descendants of Gandhar who fled once that region fell to Islam. The neighbouring Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historical Kafiristan, i.e. land of the kafirs) province of Afghanistan once had a similar culture and faith as the Kalash, before the Nuristanis were forcefully converted to Islam in 1895-96. Almost half of the Kalash community have also been converted to Islam since Pakistan was formed.

The ugly truth is that non-Muslim Pakistani women are intimidated to issue statements declaring ‘voluntary conversion to Islam’ all the time. They are threatened and told that their entire family will be eliminated if they do not do as told. Often, gun-toting Muslims are allowed to pack courtrooms when such women are giving statements to magistrates, and loud cheers for Islam are raised when the frightened woman does as she is told. The first such case of abduction and forced conversion of Rinkle Kumari which made news in 2012 followed exactly that pattern, yet 4 years later Reena’s case was declared a voluntarily conversion and accepted as such by media in both Pakistan and Bharat.

A quick look at the headlines from 2016, and recent ones about Reena’s tragic death shows how media has failed the minorities of Pakistan, by time and again failing to grill the Pakistani state and its institutions over the horrendous state of minority human rights.

Media headlines shows how the press fails Pakistani minority women like Reena

Human rights activist Naveed Murtaza, who lives in PoJK (Gilgit Baltistan), tweeted on Reena’s death –

The inhuman crimes committed each day in Pakistan against its Hindu and other minorities, and even against the general population that resists the brutality of the Army-ISI-mullah nexus, would shock the world if even a fraction of the news was reported honestly. But the Western media, which acts as a thinly veiled extension of the Western establishment, considers Pakistan an important ally in the project to maintain Western hegemony. This allows Pakistan to get away with crimes against humanity that should ideally have made it an international pariah by now.

The least Bharat can do is to show the way for the rest of the world by a complete boycott of Pakistan until it verifiably mends its Islamofascist ways.

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