Jogendra Nath Mandal: The Tragedy of Being Hindu in Pakistan, An Account
The story of Jogendra Nath Mandal (1904-1968) is an interesting one. He was a leader of the Scheduled Castes (Dalits) and close to Mohd Ali Jinnah. He made the mistake of thinking that the Dalits and Muslims had a common set of grievances against the so-called upper-caste Hindus and became a supporter of the Muslim League. In fact, he was a fan of Subhash Chandra Bose and went over to the Muslim League only after Bose was expelled from the Indian National Congress. At that time, the League was the only alternative to INC.
When Pakistan was partitioned out of a multi-religious India, Jinnah invited JN Mandal to be the first Minister of Law and Labour of the country. In fact, Mandal was one of the founding fathers of Pakistan and helped to draft its constitution. He was the highest-ranking Hindu in the newly formed Pakistan government in 1947. He was under the impression that he was helping to create a secular Pakistan!
But guess what? Just three years later, in 1950, Jogendra Nath Mandal resigned from his position and requested Nehru for Indian citizenship because living in Pakistan had become a nightmare for Hindus. The resignation letter he addressed to Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan is a long and moving one in which he predicts how Hindus would be systematically wiped out from both East and West Pakistan with the help of violence, rapes, false cases and forced conversions. The letter has been removed from Wikipedia by people whose identity it is not hard to guess but I found the letter in quora as well as someone’s blog.
I found the reference to Hindus of Sindh to be the most compelling part of his letter (click here to read letter) because I have met so many Sindhi refugees during my recent trip to Rajasthan. Read and weep!
“Leaving aside the question of East Pakistan, let me now refer to West Pakistan, especially Sind. The West Punjab had after partition about a lakh of Scheduled Castes people. It may be noted that a large number of them were converted to Islam. Only 4 out of a dozen Scheduled Castes girls abducted by Muslims have yet been recovered in spite of repeated petitions to the Authority. Names of those girls with names of their abductors were supplied to the government. The last reply recently given by the Officer-in-Charge of recovery of abducted girls said that “his function was to recover Hindu girls and ‘Achhuts‘ (Scheduled Castes) were not Hindus”.
“The condition of the small number of Hindus that are still living in Sind and Karachi, the capital of Pakistan, is simply deplorable. I have got a list of 363 Hindu temples and gurdwaras of Karachi and Sind (which is by no means an exhaustive list) which are still in possession of Muslims. Some of the temples have been converted into cobbler’s shops, slaughterhouses and hotels. None of the Hindus has got back. Possession of their landed properties were taken away from them without any notice and distributed amongst refugees and local Muslims.
“I personally know that 200 to 300 Hindus were declared non-evacuees by the Custodian a pretty long time ago. But up till now properties have no been restored to any one of them. Even the possession of Karachi Pinjirapole has not been restored to the trustees, although it was declared non-evacuee property sometime ago. In Karachi I had received petitions from many unfortunate fathers and husbands of abducted Hindu girls, mostly Scheduled Castes. I drew the attention of the 2nd Provisional Government to this fact. There was little or no effect. To my extreme regret, I received information that a large number of Scheduled Castes who are still living in Sind have been forcibly converted to Islam.”
Jogendra Nath Mandal goes on to say that Hindus had become stateless in Pakistan. “They have no other fault than that they profess the Hindu religion. Declarations are being repeatedly made by Muslim League leaders that Pakistan is and shall be an Islamic State. Islam is being offered as the sovereign remedy for all earthly evils. In the matchless dialectics of capitalism and socialism you present the exhilarating democratic synthesis of Islamic equality and fraternity. In that grand setting of the Shariat Muslims alone are rulers while Hindus and other minorities are zimmies who are entitled to protection at price, and you know more than anybody else Mr.Prime Minister, what that price is. After anxious and prolonged struggle I have come to the conclusion that Pakistan is no place for Hindus to live in and that their future is darkened by the ominous shadow of conversion or liquidation. The bulk of the upper class Hindus and politically conscious scheduled castes have left East Bengal. Those Hindus who will continue to stay accursed in Pakistan will, I am afraid, by gradual stages and in a planned manner be either converted to Islam or completely exterminated. It is really amazing that a man of your education, culture and experience should be an exponent of a doctrine fraught with so great a danger to humanity and subversive of all principles of equality and good sense.”
I do not know what happened to Jogendra Nath Mandal after he moved back to India but I wish more Dalits would read his story, and recognize that shunning their Hindu identity and cosying up to violent monotheists only leads to tragedy.
Images courtesy: Heritage Times (twitter) and wikipedia.