Pakistani Hindus march, cancel major Holi celebrations to protest Delhi riots

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Members of March from Capri Cinema to Karachi Press Club to express their solidarity with Indian Muslims on March 8, 2020. (AN Photo)
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Pundit Mukesh Kumar, a Hindu community leader, speaks to Arab News during the protest march on March 8, 2020. (AN photo)
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Shanti Devi, a Hindu woman marching in solidarity with Indian Muslims, speaks to Arab News at M.A. Jinnah Road in Karachi, on March 8, 2020. (AN Photo)
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A child on a motorcycle with his father as the protest march proceeds to Karachi Press Club from M.A Jinnah road in Karachi on March 8, 2020. (AN Photo)
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Members of the protest as they march from Capri Cinema to Karachi Press Club to express their solidarity with Indian Muslims on March 8, 2020. (AN Photo)
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Members of the protest as they march from Capri Cinema to Karachi Press Club to express their solidarity with Indian Muslims on March 8, 2020. (AN Photo)
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Updated 09 March 2020

Pakistani Hindus march, cancel major Holi celebrations to protest Delhi riots

  • Community members say will celebrate this year’s Holi festival with simplicity and sobriety
  • Pakistan’s Hindu community makes up about two percent of country’s population with majority living in Sindh

KARACHI: Representatives of Pakistan’s Hindu community on Sunday marched in support of the Muslims of Delhi affected by violent riots in the Indian capital last month, and announced they would celebrate this year’s Holi festival on Monday with sobriety as a message of protest against the violence in India.
The Hindu community in Pakistan makes up about two percent of the country’s population of 210 million people and the majority lives in southern Sindh province. For this religious group, the annual festival of Holi is normally celebrated with great zeal in Karachi, as a commemoration of spring and color.
But the 2020 Delhi riots which erupted on the night of Feb. 23 and led to the deaths of 53 people, mostly Muslim, in violent ways, have dampened the joy of the impending festival, the demonstrators said.
“Our Muslim brothers were being oppressed and killed, and their property was damaged in Delhi. It has really hurt us and prompted us to march today,” Pundit Mukesh Kumar, one of the march’s organizers, told Arab News and added: “The festival of Holi, which starts on Monday evening will be celebrated but to fulfil religious obligations only-- without all the colors and merry-making.”
On Sunday, as nationwide Aurat March demonstrations garnered national attention, the Hindu marchers continued their own impassioned protest. Community members said they have suspended all major events usually associated with the festival.
“We have canceled our main events of throwing colors, playing music and showing happiness,” Kumar said
“We urge upon the UN and world community to stop Modi and his government from meting out bad treatment to religious minorities. We also urge our Hindu brothers in India to stand up for the rights of Muslims and other religious minorities,” he said.
“Our Muslim brothers have never been a hurdle to our festival, instead they’ve always protected us,” he said. “They celebrate it with us.”
Referring to India’s controversial new citizenship law which Muslims and civil libertarians in India have been protesting since the beginning of the year, Dr. Rakesh Motiani, a local leader of Pakistan People’s Party said India’s Muslims were only protesting against a bad law. 
“It’s unfortunate that the Modi government tried to stop them from protesting by resorting to the worst form of violence,” Motiani said at the Karachi Press Club.
Shanti Devi, a demonstrator and woman in her 60’s, said the Muslims of India should be considered equal citizens of their country.
“It hurts us a lot when Muslims are tortured in India. All should be considered human beings, and only then will peace prevail and society prosper,” she said. 
“We are all humans and have the right to live in our countries peacefully.”


Police present ceremonial salute to medics in Balochistan, Punjab

Updated 28 March 2020

Police present ceremonial salute to medics in Balochistan, Punjab

  • Last week, a Pakistani doctor died after contracting coronavirus while working without PPE
  • ‘We salute them for their work,’ says Quetta police chief

MARDAN: Police in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province presented a guard of honor to doctors and paramedics in front of Quetta’s Sheikh Zayed and Fatima Jinnah hospitals on Saturday, following a similar salute to Punjab’s health care professionals at the gates of Lahore’s iconic Mayo Hospital on Friday.
On Saturday, the official tally of confirmed cases in the country had surged to over 1,400 with the majority of the cases in eastern Punjab province, followed closely by southern Sindh.
“Coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic and we are also feeling its impact,” Quetta’s senior superintendent of police, Tariq Mastoi, told Arab News and added that the ceremony was held to salute the “frontline soldiers” in the ongoing war against the elusive pathogen.
“Doctors, paramedics and others working in hospitals are fighting at the frontline of this battle and we salute them for their work,” the officer said, adding that the police wanted to boost the morale of medical practitioners and other hospital staff during this time of crisis.
In a widely circulated video, doctors and medical staff at Mayo Hospital stood in rainy Lahore with their hands on their hearts before the Punjab police on Friday, as they too were presented a guard of honor salute.
“It’s great to see our staff, who have shown such bravery and are working tirelessly, being appreciated in this manner,” Dr. Mumraiz Naqshband of Mayo Hospital, who is among Pakistan’s frontline health care professionals, told Arab News.
But the doctors deserve protection as well as appreciation, said chief of a representative body of doctors, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).
According to Qaiser Sajjad, General Secretary of PMA, it was the government’s responsibility to provide protective gear to doctors so they could fight the virus more courageously.
“Currently, doctors are fighting this battle without weapons,” he said. “Doctors deserve appreciation as well as protection.”
“The way police are saluting doctors across the country is absolutely great,” he added. ”I salute those who salute doctors and paramedics.
Last week, a 26 year old doctor from Pakistan’s northern Gilgit Baltistan lost his life when he contracted the virus after screening patients without appropriate personal protective equipment.
On Saturday, Dr. Raheem Babar, spokesperson for the Young Doctor’s Association in Balochistan told Arab News that two senior dental surgeons had tested positive for the virus in Quetta. Dentists are at especially high risk from the coronavirus infection which is spread via droplets from the mouth and nose.
On Saturday, the PMA said at least six doctors in Punjab and Sindh had also tested positive for the virus.