There were protests all over Sindh against the forced conversion of a Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari in February 2012. We were also taking part in protests in Karachi outside the press club. Here I met Raj Kumar, who was the uncle of the unlucky girl
Although the girl was ultimately not returned, unfortunately, due to a biased legal system of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The girl was handed over to her kidnapper who later became her husband after forced conversion. Notorious religious leader Mian Mitho had converted Kumari and reportedly she still lives in the courtyard of Pir of Bharchundi.
But Raj’s struggle was not limited to her niece, he continued his campaign against every forced conversion in Sindh. Since then I have seen Raj very active and vocal in forced conversion cases in Sindh. He and our journalist friend Asad Chandio later formed the Sindh Secular Forum and Raj remained active for the rights of minorities in Pakistan when Asad Chandio had to leave the country and take asylum in the USA due to his secular views. Every Sunday Raj\’s Facebook campaign for equal rights of every Pakistani citizen continued uninterrupted till his death. “We want equal citizenship in the constitution and it’s our birthright. Give us the right to dream.”
I still remember Raj’s legal battle against kidnapping and then the forced conversion of another scheduled caste Hindu girl Ram Piyari Oad. Raj along with another champion of human rights and secular Sindh Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, advocate. Both had come to the PILER office (I used to work there at that time) and asked the head Karamat Sb to provide residence to the Oad family in PILER\’s hostel because they had to file a petition in the Karachi bench of SHC. Both comrades had filed a case in the Sindh High Court, but that case also remained inconclusive due to a faulty legal system. The Father of Ram Piyari Oad suddenly died in his village and Lakho sahib also passed away and the case was buried in piles of SHC’s files.
I always admired Raj’s point of view on Hindus leaving Sindh due to discrimination and forced conversion. He was a diehard opponent of the migration of Hindus from Pakistan. He used to say that he had a lot of pressure to leave the country but he refused because he could not survive without Sindh. According to him, Sindhi Hindus are the original owners of Sindh so why should they leave the motherland? Even though he had US permanent residence or citizenship and he used to visit every one or two years because his son was studying there, he always returned to Sindh after a few months.
Today early in the morning when I opened my cell phone I saw Asad Chandio’s post on Facebook saying Raj Kumar Wanjara goodbye along with his profile picture. I did not understand. In comments, I asked what he mean. I thought he was saying goodbye to Raj because he was leaving for Pakistan. But when I scrolled down, I saw another post by Mushtaq Rajpur who wrote in detail about the death of Raj. It was really shocking news for me. I am really sad and cannot find words to pay him tributes.
This time he was also in the USA and was posting his photos and videos of his activities and visits to various places in the USA along with his close friend
Sindh has really lost his beloved son. May his soul rest in eternal peace!