|Bowl of Hazar Chiragh|
On this Blog Action Day, I wanted to write a post about issues that are common, but as they say, "charity begins at home", I thought, I might remind the concerned/sensible people of the continued injustices to the people, I recognize with, myself:
While the homes that are built all around mountainsides create an image of a bowl of Hazar-Chiragh (thousand-lamps) which might be an appropriate name to the valley, where Hazara people live (People of the valley also call it Mehr-Abad - The land of love -, for the valley is an oasis of love in the desert of hatred that has encircled it.). Beautiful and lovely, as the valley appears is only the soul of the valley. The body of the valley are the results of the thousands of jugaads that evolved as a results of deep rooted inequalities that Hazaras in Quetta face. In fact, Hazaras are reminded regularly to not think of themselves equals (following is the list of some):
* The extremists religious groups remind Hazaras, no matter what you do or say, we are not accepting you as equal Muslims, by issuing constant warnings through media outlets calling Hazaras infidels, by target killings and by suicide bombings (Human Rights Watch Detailed Report)
* Hazara Town residents are reminded to not think of themselves as an equal humans by denying access to drinking water: Despite of several capped-water-wells (drilled wells and capped) in Karkhasa nala for last decade, Hazara Town, which is adjacent to nala and suffers from its annual flooding are not supplied of these wells. They are even denied of rights to drill tube-wells and forced them to buy drinking water from tub-wells of adjacent orchards. If you have heard of water-tanker mafia, it is well-established in Hazara town.
* Hazara Students are reminded they are not equal in the eyes of Department of education: There is only one government boy high school and a government girl high school for a population of more than 200,000 people of Hazara Town (Total Hazara population in Quetta is 500,000 - 600,000. Approximately half of that population live in Hazara Town).
* Although a sports stadium was part of the development plan in PSDP 2009 (District Development Profile 2011: Section: 7.1), there is no playground in Hazara Town (People who were using Hazara Town's graveyard for morning walk was attacked by terrorists). Hazara town residents are reminded that they are not equal to other areas, despite of giving the province sportsmen, who have won several national and international medals.
These are only a few examples of many including, constant police and land-mafia harassment of the people.
There are two populations of Hazaras in Quetta, Mehrabad and Hazara Town. As Mehrabad is much better-off in terms of roads, schooling, housing and is surrounded three sides by mountains (a sense of security), a lot of Hazara Town residents migrated back to Mehrabad (although it created economic hardships for them). In fact, Mehrabad had become overpopulated by mid-90's, and that is the reason, a lot of people moved to Hazara Town, which is a plain area, with abundant space. When target killing of Hazaras intensified and a lot of people were targeted traveling between Hazara Town and Mehrabad, a lot of people migrated back to Mehrabad. This forced people to build houses over the mountain. Yes, these houses turn the valley into bowl of Hazar-Chiragh but imagine for a moment, all those old men and women who live in those houses. They have to climb, hundred plus concrete/stone-steps to reach their houses. Think of pregnant women who live in those houses. What if they need emergency medical help. The ambulance neither fit in those alleys, nor they can climb those steps. What about the children, who have to walk to school and play on those steps. Some of these houses don't even get enough share of daylight (as sunrise is late and sunset is early). These houses are jugaads of the people to escape insecurity and unequal treatments. I see these houses as a living statue of inequality.