Published : 2001

Group : Partition

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Reproduced from an interesting article / paper by Prof. (Dr.) Arjan ‘Shad’ Mirchandani

We do not have any means of representation in the Parliament or in the Assembly on the basis of our linguistic identity and thus we have not enjoyed rights, which are commensurate with our size or our previous status. The scattered existence of the Sindhis, throughout India, is not by our choice. It has been cruelly thrust upon us. The losing of one’s land is the greatest calamity one can think of, but the deprivation of a community aspiring to participate in legislative programmes for the development of their social, political and other capabilities is far more disastrous and ultimately results in its complete ineffectualness. Now-a-days, it is not uncommon that the communities / nationalities appeal to the UN, to invoke their enquiry if there is a violation of human rights.

In fact, human rights have not been enunciated at one point of time, nor are these written down in a single document. They have evolved from time to time and even the U.N. has taken cognizance and given shape to them. Actually, the civil and political rights constitute the first group of human rights. It was as late as in September 1992 that U.S.A. ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I have been personally harping on the denial of political rights to the Sindhi community from 1989 onwards. While accepting to divided the country, was it not incumbent on the part of the Indian leaders to see that the legitimate human-rights of the Sindhis were protected? Was it not their obligation to ensure that the political psyche of the Sindhis was not jeopardized? Instead, the Sindhis were thrown in the refugee camps throughout the length and breadth of the country and left to their lot. In their sheer lust for governing the country they forgot about safeguarding the national rights of the Sindhi community. What has the U.N. to say about the denial of political rights of nearly half a crore (five million) Sindhis in India? Today, the Sindhis cannot elect a single representative of their own to the Parliament or any State-legislature in India.

The violation of political rights, enjoyed by Sindhis in Sindh, is not a matter to be judged in terms of geographical contiguity here. It involves a human consideration that the community which has enjoyed the political life for centuries together should not be allowed to be kept away from the mainstream. Like other fellow-Indians, they should also be given an opportunity to cater to the satisfaction of their linguistic urges. Special considerations must prevail whenever there is such an injustice which reduces the entire community to a faceless existence. Special provisions and measures must be thought of to see that the political psyche of the community is not injured. In view of the peculiar situation of the Sindhis in not having their state like ‘New Sindh’ or the like, they should have, at least, a gratification that they are also taking part in electing their fellow-members of the community. If this suggestion means ‘Reservation’, the demand should not be ruled out.

As it is, nothing is unchangeable. It is the compulsion of the circumstances which should determine even the concept of representation. Unprecedented situations require unprecedented solutions. The partition of the country took place on communal basis. While apportioning the different areas between two communities, it is not understood why no portion of Sindh was marked for the Sindhi Hindus, even where they had the majority? It only shows that leaders of the National Movement, in their anxiety and hast to enjoy power very conveniently forgot about the equity and justice and made the Sindhi community, a scapegoat. In view of this Political murder committed by our leaders, the lest that one could expect from the other states in India is that they should not grudge ‘reservation’ of a few seats to the Sindhi community. Here it may be clarified that by reservation, I mean the political reservation only and no reservation in jobs etc.

Nobody can dispute that Sindhis are a peace-loving community and they don’t believe in achieving their objects through bloodshed. A Sindhi is brought up in the ethos of Vendanta and Sufism and he has always imbibed a feeling of tolerance. This has perhaps been misunderstood for plasticity and lack of strength.

Is it not a paradox that while on the one hand the government talks in terms of peaceful solutions of the problems and condemns violent approaches, the sections, which adopt non-combative postures, are not attended to, and, in fact ignored. This can only be construed as incitement to fighting and in a way an encouragement of the same. Let the government prove its bonafides by showing a gesture to the Sindhi community, to whom, justice has been denied for long. Actually, the demand for ‘Reservation’ is the least that Sindhis should ask for.

I don’t think that there is any minority of the size of Sindhi population that is not represented in the law-making bodies of the country. As a matter of fact, the population of much lesser numbers has been given their won states or will be given in due course. Why then, in the case of Sindhis, even the minimum demand is not being accepted? It is a pity that some of our own people are feeling shy of making a demand for reservation. Instead, they are suggesting ‘nominations’ by the Government. Here it may be pointed out that ‘nomination’ is not at all a solution for the malady which has been afflicting the Sindhi community and if not checked, will result in a situation where Sindhis will develop a sense of inferiority – when they realize that while every linguistic province has a right to send representatives to the law making bodies, they are not in a position to partake of that privilege. The election is not only a method of selecting representatives but provides an inner satisfaction to the voter that he is indirectly representing his community’s interests in the State-legislature or the Parliament.

We are no doubt, all Indians. But, “Indianness” is also an aggregate equation of all the communities living in India. The community’s welfare is definitely the task of its members. This is natural and an ethnic reality, which cannot be overlooked. Nominated members are not necessarily answerable to the members of their community as in the case of elected representatives.

In the political climate of the country, I can understand that no State would be magnanimous enough to surrender any constituency in favour of reservation for a Sindhi candidate. In that case, the Government should not mind increasing the number of Parliament / Assembly seats. After all, a community, which has been completely uprooted and does not have its own state should find some elected representatives.

Various political parties have been suggesting on the national scene the idea of ‘proportional representation.’ Sindhis can also consider how a derivative concept will promote their own interests. It must be realized that for obtaining the political rights, the community needs to work on a distinct political platform. It has to be cohesive and has to function like a united lobby in order to get political clout and not just crumbs of recognition.