KARACHI – Scheduled caste Hindus of Sindh have complained discrimination against them during relief and rehabilitation process after 2010 and 2011 floods. They urged the government to take immediate steps to uplift the status of two million scheduled castes. They demanded to ensure protection to the lower caste communities in Sindh during the ensuing 2012 monsoon season.Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday the office bearers of Upgrade Minorities for Integrated Development Shanti Devi and Avinash Hari and Zulfiqar Shah of Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network said it was the responsibility of the state to provide basic rights to each citizen.The super floods of 2010 and heavy monsoon rains in 2011 had caused widespread damages in the province of Sindh, where as a majority of scheduled cast population was also affected. During floods, it was heard in many places and relief camps that due to distinguished religion and faith, the minorities were neglected and left on the mercy of the God. The minorities of 22 out of 23 flood districts were very badly affected and suffered a lot. The flood-affected minorities belonging to the most affected districts of Khirpur, Nangarparkar, Tharparkar, Mithi, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar and Badin have lost their shelters, crops, cattle, assets and lives without receiving any compensation. In the pre-flood situation, these communities were completely ignored in the development. The practice for focusing, supporting and protecting the minorities on the top priority was not seen at large. As a result, they were comparatively very badly affected in getting relief and rehabilitation assistance. They pointed out that Pakistan has an estimated scheduled caste population of two million. Kohlis, Bhaghrris, Menghwars, Bheels and Oads are scheduled castes who have been living in Sindh and Punjab rural areas for centuries and are predominantly present in lower Sindh districts.After the floods several religious organizations were involved in emergency relief activities which were known to discriminate against non-Muslims. Local charities and organizations have also demonstrated a bias, preferring to help Muslim victims instead of Hindus or Christians. In cases where organizations have made concerted efforts to reach Hindu communities, goods have reportedly been looted. For instance, in September 2011, a local organisation sent two trucks filled with relief goods for 200 Hindu families to a town in Badin, which were looted by armed men near the camp. Even though this incident was reported to government authorities, no compensation or respite was provided to the minority relief camps. They said despite similar incidents being reported last year, little was done to ensure that such prejudice does not impede relief efforts again. Government officials denied any bias in distributing aid, but there are strong allegations of corruption and misappropriation of goods in relief efforts both this year and last year. Local landlords’ involvement in the distribution of relief is a major barrier, as individuals with political affiliations are given priority over those in desperate need of aid.Some international non-governmental organizations have said they will be focusing their relief and rehabilitation efforts on the most marginalized flood victims, which includes minorities. This has been discussed at the highest level of government; President Asif Ali Zardari took notice and demanded a report from the Sindh government on why scheduled caste Hindus were being denied humanitarian assistance, calling it ‘unacceptable’. These are positive developments, but need to be followed by practical actions to ensure that the doubly vulnerable victims of the floods are not subjected to further injustice and exclusion.In the absence of true democratic governance and representational political structures, there is sanctioned disregard for minorities in Pakistan. Menial jobs are reserved for low-caste Hindus and Christians, compelling them to take up jobs that involve cleaning gutters. Low caste Hindus are often not allowed to vote. Their landlords vote for them. Political players must recognize their role in perpetuating this inequality, and make a larger, more united effort not only to amend discriminatory laws, but also enforce those laws that safeguard the rights of minorities.Minorities people were not allowed in flood relief camps either setup by government, NGOs or peoples themselves. At this level, even the majority of minority population was without adequate access to food, clean drinking water, medicine and shelter etc. Due to flood situation, the flood affected peoples get the “Pakistan Card” as a financial support from government of Pakistan, but the minorities again neglected and not considered to issue this card to them on the basis of non-availability of CNICs. It is fact that the most of minorities are not registered in NADRA due to illiteracy. They demand the government that it should launch multiple projects on sustainable rehabilitation of flood affected minorities including education, health, livelihood and reconstruction of damaged houses on top priority. Beside this, the agriculture land of forest must be allotted to affected farmers families, free loan for financial support also should given to initiate the destroyed livelihood again, free medicines and fertilizers should also be provided and government should release the detained minority farmer families for bounded labour from the personal jails of feudal. They also urged the government that it should also exonerate the feudal loan. The ministry of minorities and provincial minister for minority affairs should also divert the funds and introduce new projects on rebuilding lives and livelihood by overcoming the troubles of these flood victim minorities.