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Faith leaders deplore 'murder' of Pakistani Hindus in India

Religious heads call for a UN-led probe into the deaths of migrant family

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Faith leaders deplore 'murder' of Pakistani Hindus in India

Faith leaders hold a press conference in Lahore on Sept. 26 against the alleged killing of 11 migrant Hindu Pakistanis in India. (Photo supplied)

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Pakistani faith leaders have called for a transparent UN-led probe into the deaths of a Pakistani Hindu migrant family in India under mysterious circumstances.

Some 11 members of the family were found dead in Lodta village in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district on Aug. 9, The Hindu reported.

A handwritten note, found by police, claimed that one of the deceased, a nurse, provided sedatives and injected everyone with poison before taking her own life.

Since then, there have been regular protests in Pakistan by Hindus who accuse the Indian government of covering up the issue.

Pakistan Hindu Council last week led a march of hundreds of Hindus from southern Sindh province to Islamabad, where it staged a brief sit-in near the Indian embassy.

"The killing of a single human being anywhere in the world is a despicable act. In this case, an entire Pakistani Hindu family has been mercilessly murdered in what appears to be a well-planned conspiracy. The family went there thinking India would be a safe place to go," said Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore during a press conference in Lahore on Sept. 26.

"This is not the first such incident of this nature. In 2002 at Odisa and Gujarat, many Christians were killed. Several were burned alive. Some people in India are not ready to tolerate any minority; not even low-caste Hindus feel safe," added the archbishop, who is chairman of the National Commission for Interfaith Dialogue.

"All members of the commission strongly condemn the incident and demand swift justice. We also call on the Indian government to set up an inquiry commission and include members of the UN and Pakistani High Commission to maintain transparency."

Amarnath Randhawa, a representative of the Hindu community, endorsed the demands of the archbishop.

"We have registered our protest in front of the Indian High Commission against this tragic incident, which has exposed the true face of India. The Indian authorities have not yet released the medical report," he said.

Sardar Bishan Singh, a Sikh leader, thanked the archbishop for arranging the press conference to show solidarity with the families of the victims.

"India must include the Pakistan Commission in Delhi in the investigation process and punish those involved," Singh said.

"No one is safe. The Sikh farmers of Heryana are facing persecution at the hands of the ruling BJP government. We support their cause and demand that all Indian minorities be allowed to live peacefully."

Maulana M. Asim Makhdoom, a Muslim religious leader, said: "We will fight for the rights of our Hindus. They are as much Pakistanis as we are. We appeal to the UN to take notice of the killing of Hindu migrants. If the families of victims don't get justice, we will go to Wagah Border carrying white flags."

According to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, India has still not released the necessary information on the deaths of the family members.

"I wish to reiterate that the Jodhpur incident is a matter of grave concern for the government and the people of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Hindu community," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said during his weekly press conference on Sept. 24.

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