Few people remember Dharam Sahu, a man in his early 20s, from Darbhanga, Bihar. Dharam was killed by a Muslim mob last year because he tried to stop one Mohammed Azmal Nadaf from stalking and harassing his married niece. This poor man’s death did not make it to mainstream media headlines because acknowledging a Hindu as a victim of religious persecution is anathema to many.
Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation, however, reached out to his family and offered them much-needed financial support. Dharam left behind his wife, whom he married less than two years ago, and a daughter. His daughter was three months old when she lost her father to that carnage.
On June 15, 2022, Dharam and other men from his family confronted Azmal and asked him to stop harassing Kajal. Kajal is Dharam’s niece, who had turned down Azmal’s proposal and married into another Hindu family. Azmal also used to call her in-laws from unknown numbers to cause problems in her marriage. He even threatened to kill Kajal and her husband.
When Dharam asked him to stop interfering in Kajal’s married life, Azmal was so incensed that he gathered a mob of 20-25 people within minutes. They viciously attacked Dharam and his family together while chanting “Allah-o-Akbar”.
Dharam succumbed to many injuries at the Darbhanga district hospital.
Dharam was a cab driver in Gurugram along with his brother Ajay. After his death, Ajay left the job and returned home as he was concerned for his family’s safety and well-being.
To help this family battling financial distress, SNUF gave him one lakh fifty thousand rupees to kickstart their lives with new hope and courage. We hope that this money will help them tide over difficult times.
SNUF recently received the Sree Narayana Guru Award for Social Work for its exceptional work in rehabilitating countless victims who have faced heart-wrenching atrocities.
A Muslim woman, her parents and a cleric in Kanpur allegedly brainwashed a minor Hindu boy to convert and marry her.
Simran, daughter of Mohd Haneef and Jameela Bano, coerced Nikhil Singh (16) to marry her. She is a divorcee and has two kids from a previous marriage. Reportedly, she lured the boy, and her family groomed him for a year before the conversion.
Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation (SNUF) filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for Nikhil. The Commission took prompt action and brought Nikhil home after police arrested Simran, her parents and the cleric who led the Nikah.
Nikhil’s story reminds us that young Hindu boys are just as vulnerable to these vile traps as Hindu girls.
Similar crimes targeting minor Hindu
Nikhil’s case isn’t an isolated story of an underage Hindu falling prey to conversion Nikah. There is a well-reported pattern in such crimes targeting the Hindu community, especially in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, where Hinduphobia is a common and permitted practice.
For example, in Pakistan, every month, grooming gangs from the majority community abduct and forcibly convert as many as 20 underage Hindu girls, who can never see or connect with their families again. What’s worse is that such gangs force these girls to marry much older Muslim men (or sell them into prostitution).
Such crimes are a regular affair, especially in the Sindh region. These abductors take pride in such heinous activities because they insist they are doing “good work”. Police, judiciary and the government have refused to investigate these cases.
In India, many states are looking for ways to counter ‘Love Jihad’ – a pattern of crimes wherein men from the Muslim community fake identities to lure Hindu women. They forge these relationships only for religious conversion and sexual exploitation. These men often conceal their religious and/or marital identity till the woman is completely disconnected from her family.
These patterns aren’t restricted to the sub-continent alone. In April, the UK stirred a diplomatic row with Pakistan when the British Home Secretary Suella Braverman called for a crackdown on “Grooming Gangs” led by British Pakistani men in England.
She said, “(We see) a practice whereby vulnerable white English girls — sometimes in care, sometimes in challenging circumstances — being pursued, raped, drugged, and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men, who work in child abuse rings or networks.”
We put a smile on the face of Preeti Patel, a single mother of two who left an abusive marriage a few years ago. Preeti lives in her parental house in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh. and struggles to make a living by selling bead necklaces. Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation (SNUF) helped her utilize her tailoring skills to generate a new source of income.
So far, Preeti has tried to generate income by making necklaces sold at a mere INR 170 for 12 pieces. It takes her a month to make and sell them. With such a weak source of income, Preeti could barely send her elder child to school. When we spoke to her, she didn’t know how to manage schooling for the second child. Her parents do odd jobs at a school nearby to sustain their living and, therefore, cannot support her much financially.
Since she knew how to tailor and mend clothes, SNUF gifted her a sewing machine to increase her livelihood prospects. As one can see in the tweet below, she was grateful for receiving the support.
SNUF works with several disadvantaged women from vulnerable Hindu families by providing them with the tools and resources they need to lead dignified lives. Many women like Preeti need support to unleash their full potential and become self-sufficient.
Recently, SNUF received the Sree Narayana Guru Award for Social Work on September 15, 2023. The award, presented at the Pondy Lit Fest, recognised SNUF’s outstanding efforts in rehabilitating vulnerable people who have endured profound hardships. Furthermore, the foundation has played a vital role in supporting tribal and Dalit refugees from Pakistan by offering them immediate shelter and sustenance and establishing educational centres where hundreds of refugee children receive free education.
Displaced Hindu students at our free coaching centres gain more than academic support. They also get oriented with the Indian values unique to this land. For example, recently, we celebrated Teacher’s Day at our centre with various events for refugee students.
For the first time, Teacher’s Day was celebrated at the Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation (SNUF) centre in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Children were introduced to Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s life and works.
The foundation’s mission is to educate displaced children in academics and acquaint them with Indian values and culture. Hence, various programs are organised for the children, whether it’s Teacher’s Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or Independence Day.
The program began with the singing of the national anthem. Following that, the children recited poems and even delivered speeches in honour of their teachers. The children also crafted greeting cards and small gifts for their teachers.
Why do Indians celebrate Teacher’s Day?
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President and second President of India, was also a renowned teacher, a great philosopher, and a devoted Hindu scholar. He was honoured with the Bharat Ratna award in 1954 for his qualities. His birthday is celebrated every year in India as Teacher’s Day.
Who are these children at SNUF’s Jodhpur Centre?
These children are displaced Hindu migrants who have been forced to flee from their homes in Pakistan because of the relentless religious persecution there. They are from economically backward tribal communities. Their families generally spend all their money on visas, passports and related paperwork to cross the border to India.
The freedom to celebrate their traditional Hindu festivals, like Janmashtami, without fear of violent attacks is one of the main reasons why poor Hindu families come to India, leaving everything behind in Pakistan. At Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation (SNUF), we ensure that such children from such families can experience the joy of celebrating Hindu festivals, irrespective of their financial circumstances.
For example, recently, SNUF celebrated Janmashtami at its Jodhpur free coaching centre for refugee children. Our founder, Swati Goel Sharma, prepared the event’s outline and arranged suitable activities for them. Dilip Kumar, a team member and a coach at the centre, executed her plan and beautifully decorated the venue with colourful decorations, balloons, and festive literature.
At last, on the much-awaited festive day, children came to the centre dressed in traditional attire. Among them was a 9-month-old baby dressed as Bal Krishna that was the cynosure of all eyes. The festivities commenced with prayers to Lord Krishna, followed by Bhajans in his praise.
Thereafter, little devotees presented Vidya Bharti and Vishal presented a captivating enactment of Lord Krishna’s meeting with Sudama. Through this play, they conveyed a message of friendship and equality to everyone.
Later, the SNUF team distributed ‘prasad’ to all the attendees at the end of the programme. The team members and students had these sacred offerings together joyously.
Why is this Janmashtami celebration significant?
These children mostly come from Hindu Bhil families that are an economically backward tribe in Pakistan, where minorities don’t get equal rights and opportunities. These families are highly vulnerable to attacks, abductions, shootouts and rapes by the majority community there.
As the state fails to protect them from these atrocities, these families have no option but to migrate to India. For that journey, they have to sell their homes, lands and belongings there at unfair rates. That money is hardly enough to cover the expenses of passports and visas.
Yet, after completing their formalities at the Atari-Wagah border, they enter India. They settle down in make-shift shelters and face many challenges here. Even then, they don’t give up on their dreams for a brighter future for their next generations. For such families, celebrating their traditional festival in a safe environment is a priceless privilege.
To these displaced Hindu families and their children, India is indeed a heaven of freedom where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high.
On July 14, 2023, when Chandrayaan 3 successfully landed on the moon, refugee Hindu children studying at our Jodhpur centre broke into a celebration as they saw live how their prayers for the mission’s success turned true,
These underprivileged children at our free coaching centre realised what this mission meant for ISRO, Bharat and every Indian. They requested their teachers for a collective ‘Prarthana’ for the third mission in the Chandrayaan programme, a series of lunar exploration missions by ISRO.
Our entire team immediately got to work to fulfil their beautiful longings. We organized a live broadcast of the Chandrayaan 3 mission launch at our centre and arranged a Prarthana event. On July 14, these children prayed fervently for the mission’s success. Their faces lit up with smiles as they saw live on TV how the spacecraft landed on the moon successfully.
Expressing their hopes for a bright future for the country, our students also talked about contributing to various fields in the future, thereby bringing further glory to the nation.
In Jodhpur, Sewa Nyaya Uththan Foundation (SNUF) conducts a free coaching centre for refugee Hindu children. These students come from poor families that migrated to India to flee religious persecution in Pakistan. They spent all their resources to obtain visas and other paperwork required to start their lives afresh in India. They settle mostly around cities in Rajasthan, especially Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
SNUF is committed to supporting such vulnerable families to find their feet in India. Other than education centres, we also support them with shelter, livelihood, drinking water and ration supplies.