Protest over removal of body from graveyard

Activists from Human Rights Watch and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) organised the protest outside Karachi Press Club yesterday. 

They described the incident in the interior of Sindh province as a bad precedent that went against the rights of all minorities.

Shujauddin Qureshi of PILER said the incident was a worrying sign for all civil and human rights activists and could set a worrisome trend in Sindh. He said though police had registered an FIR, the cleric who allegedly encouraged some men to dig up the grave was not named in the complaint.

On October 6, a mob dug up the body of 28-year-old Bhuro Bheel who died in a road accident, and placed it outside Haji Faqeer graveyard in Badin district on the ground that a minority could not be buried in a Muslim cemetery. Religious extremists were said to be behind the incident, and they allegedly acted on the direction of a cleric.

After Bhuro, a lower caste from the Bheel community, was buried in the Muslim graveyard, a local cleric announced on a mosque's loudspeaker that it is "against the teachings of Islam" to allow a minority to be buried beside a Muslim. A few people, said to have links with a political party, dug up the body within 12 hours of the burial.

The body remained on the road for about eight hours until people took to the streets, pushing police to take action. The Haji Faqeer graveyard has had a long tradition of allowing the burial of minorities of the Bheel community. Bheels are among the few in the minority who do not cremate their dead.

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