ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of minority Hindus rendered homeless by the devastating floods in Pakistan were served beef by authorities at a relief camp in Karachi, triggering protest from the community members.
The Hindus belonging to the Baagri and Waghari nomadic tribes, who numbered around 600, are among 4,000 flood victims of different faiths living in the relief camp in Lyari area.
“We are Hindus and consumption of beef is prohibited in our religion but we were given beef, which is unacceptable,” Mohan Baagri, a Hindu living at the camp, said. Several women with traditional tattoos on their faces and wearing ‘lehengas’ left the camp with their children and demanded that they be shifted somewhere else.
Following the protest, officials of the minority affairs ministry of Sindh province rushed to the camp and intervened to resolve the issue.
“It was a misunderstanding. The food was for the residents of the camp but the authorities were not aware of their faith. However, we have made the arrangements and they will now be given rations so they can cook their own food,” said Mr Dara Kazi, the personal assistant to provincial the Minority Affairs Minister, Mr Mohan Mal Kohistani. Officials were visiting other camps to see if Hindus or other minorities were living in them so that similar problems could be avoided, Kazi said.
“If minorities are found in other camps, we will provide them food according to their beliefs,” he said.
Mr Javaid Sabagatullah Mahar, in-charge of the camp where beef was served, said that some flood victims had protested and that it happened because of a misunderstanding.
“The food was brought for the people living in the camp and we were not aware of the issue but when they protested, we resolved the issue and now they are being given rations,” said Mr Mahar.
Baagris and Wagharis are believed to have migrated to Sindh from areas along the Waghari river in Maharashtra during a severe drought that occurred at the time of the British Raj.