PESHAWAR: Hindus in Pakistan generally and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province particularly bury the dead bodies of their dear ones instead of cremation due to unavailability of cremation places (morgue).
Places which were once Hindu cremation grounds (Shamshan Ghats) in Pakistan have changed into graveyards owned by one sect of Hindus or other. In many areas it is almost impossible for Hindus to perform rituals like incineration.
The demands for cremation areas were raised by Hindu community time to time in the post-partition era, but the authorities concerned still to properly consider their demand.
Before Indo-Pak partition, nearly 23 Shamshan Ghats existed in the province in Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency and Swat, but now those Shamshan Ghats are used by Hindus as graveyards.
A piece of land in Nothia Qadeem, Peshawar is used as graveyard by Hindus; where they have buried 10-15 dead bodies, till this very moment.
A Hindu Pandit, Jay Gopal told Lead Pakistan that the graveyard in Nothia Qadeem was used only by Balmiki Hindus.
“When someone dies in our sect we request Balmik to let us to bury corpse of our relative in the graveyard but they often prevent us to do so,” he commented.
He told that they had cremation area in Attock but the expenses prevent them from incineration.
Commenting on the cost of cremation he told that bearing expenses was almost impossible for them as the fares of vehicles, price of wood and arrangement of conveyance for participants in the funeral procession was out of pocket these days.
“Members of the Hindu faith have been cremating their dead for centuries, in accordance with their religious beliefs. By tradition, bodies are cremated as quickly as possible after death, typically within six hours, and they are handled only by the family of the deceased. Fire is believed to be cleansing, and it will help prepare the soul for future journeys,” he said.
He told that places which were Shamshan Ghats in the past and were owned by Hindus are now in the possession of Auqaf Department. “The department should return these lands as our community need it for graveyards,” he requested the authorities.
An official of the revenue department on the condition not to be named told that according to the record a cremation place was existed on GT Road near Chacha Younus Park.
A member of Hindu community from DI Khan, Shankar Bhatti alleged that 43 Kanals land allotted to them for graveyard was occupied by their community leaders. “Those leading our community and were elected as MNAs and MPAs are mainly responsible for the whole mess,” he said.
Another Hindu, Balya Ram, lamented that identity of Hindus is nearly to end if the provincial and federal government did not paid heed.
Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami of Peshawar chapter, Behrullah advocate said in Islamic republic as well in non-Muslim states the minorities have freedom to perform their religious rituals without any hindrance.
“If Hindu community was able to get a piece of land for Shamshan Ghat in Nowshera or Charsadda, we shall support them,” he said.
He further said if the Auqaf Department possessed the lands of Hindus then this is the duty of the department to return their lands as this act was unconstitutional and inhuman.
Criticizing the government he said to take care of the minorities’ rights is the responsibility of federal and provincial government.