While Pakistan’s minority communities continue to live under the vast shadow of the Muslim majority, a reckoning is needed when it comes to the discriminatory practices among some minority communities themselves.
The ‘Bagris’ of Sindh present one such example. This nomadic tribe, considered a scheduled caste among the country’s Hindu community, has been neglected since the country’s Partition and left to fend for itself. The society, including members of the Hindu community, as well as the government, is yet to even recognise their plight let alone make amends.
Bagris are considered the original Sindhis as they have been residing here since centuries. While many used to be involved in begging, they have now started operating small businesses in Hyderabad and surrounding areas where they sell toys, mosquito nets, etc. However, devoid of any official identity such as national identity cards, they are unable to seek loans from banks or purchase mobile numbers — thus restricting their upward mobility. Since the National Database Registration Authority demands certain documents such as electricity bills and marriage registration certificates, these nomads are left in the lurch as they live off the land and partake in seasonal migrations.
It is unfortunate that the Bagris have not only been denied visibility by the country’s majority but even their own have abandoned them to the status quo. The Hindu Council has not been serious in resolving their issues. Bagris say they want identification cards so they can apply for microfinance loans and make a decent living but their voices fall on deaf ears and their quest for recognition continues.