Being forced to convert to another religion, or to do anything against your will, to keep your job is reprehensible. But that’s what’s happening to many Hindus in Pakistan who are finding that to maintain their employment under Muslim bosses they are having to convert to Islam. They are also converting in droves to stop being discriminated against, which is a common practice in Muslim-majority Pakistan. These are usually poor people who can’t afford to lose their jobs, with families to support, so it’s just easier to convert then to fight the constant discrimination and persecution.
In a period of 6 days (from May 14 to 19) almost 60 Pakistani Hindus were forced to convert to keep their jobs in one town in Punjab alone, and their stories are all similar.
As many as 35 Hindus converted to Islam on May 14, another 14 on May 17 and eight on May 19, 2010.
All the 57 Hindus who have converted belong to the Pasroor town of Sialkot.
According to some Pakistani electronic media reports, Mangut Ram, a close relative of some of the new converts, who lives in Sialkot, said that these Hindus had to embrace Islam because they were under pressure from their Muslim employers.
He said four Hindu brothers along with their families lived in the village of Nikki Pindi. Mangut Ram said that Hans Raj, Kans Raj, Meena/Kartar and Sardari Lal along with his nephews and sons worked at an eatery in Karachi.
According to Mangut Ram, his co workers often used to speak against Hindus in Karachi where his family worked. “The owner of the shop where I worked said that after a few months of his employing me the sales dropped drastically because people avoided purchasing and eating edibles prepared by Hindus. Many people opposed the large presence of Hindu employees at his shop and my boss felt pressured to change the situation,” he added.
Ram said Sardari Lal and his brother Meena/Kartar had worked at the sweets shops for several years and made a decent living that allowed them to support their families.
He said other Muslims employees of the nearby shops discriminated against them and persecuted them. The shop owner was forced to think about their future at his establishment. “That was when the two brothers and their families decided to embrace Islam in order to keep their jobs and be secure,” he added.
Ram confirmed that 13 family members of Sardari Lal, 12 members of Meena/ Kartar, their nephew Kans Raj’s son Boota Ram along with three adults and several children of these families embraced Islam on May 14, 2010.
He said that Sardari Lal’s older brothers Hans Raj and Kans Raj remained Hindus. Hans Raj too has said that he might consider converting to save his job. He said that life was ‘just easier if one was Muslim’ and he wouldn’t be discriminated against.
Ram said that 14 Hindus of the Tapiala village had embraced Islam on May 17 because they were extremely poor and could not get jobs because no one would employ the large Hindu family.
He said that another relative of his, Parkash, who lived in the village of Seowal, along with his eight family members had embraced Islam in order to save their lands.
“After embracing Islam, Parkash Ram told me that Muslim neighbours had been mistreating him and had forced him to convert,” Mangut Ram said.
Although technically they converted of their own free will, they were forced by circumstances, which is not the way to gain converts. How sad to give up your faith because you are being pressured, or because you are tired of being harassed and persecuted, or because you need to save your job or your land. And how pathetic that there are those who feel the need to condemn others for their beliefs and to force them to believe as they do. If only people would start treating others as they would like to be treated, and to embrace our differences rather than trying to make everyone else like we are, then perhaps this world might be a decent place to live.