KARACHI: The original owners of Karachi were Hindus, Parsis and Christians, who developed the city by setting up hospitals, schools and parks. However, they were forced to migrate from Karachi after Partition.
Writer and blogger Akhtar Balouch said this during the second Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Karachi Literary Festival and book fair at PMA House on Saturday.
Balouch said he said chosen to speak on ‘Hindus and Parsis of Karachi’, which is an ‘unfortunate subject’ to discuss in our country. He was of the view that we need to understand and acknowledge the contributions of the Hindus, Parsis and Christians in making Karachi what it is today. He remarked that even after 70 years of its renaming, Bandar Road could never really become MA Jinnah Road.
According to Balouch, he reminds the people of Karachi that they do not want to see the indigenous minorities that used to inhabit the city. He added that by changing the names of landmarks you cannot discredit the achievements of these people. In fact, he said, you are making a mockery of your own history in these attempts of discrediting.
Talking about forcible migrations, he said that Rahimo Kaka of Indian movie Sholay was AK Hangal, who was forcibly sent to India after Partition by the then commissioner of Karachi, Syed Hashim Raza. He added that Hangal was a communist who made the first trade union in Karachi and worked at one of the tailors’ on Elphinstone Street, which is now called Zaibunisa Street, in Saddar.
“[Raza’s] term as commissioner would never be forgotten in the history of Karachi for expelling the Hindus from the city that they developed,” he said. He added that the Hindus never wanted to leave Sindh but were forcibly sent to India. How can a person leave a place where he has made a house, which is 10 or 20 years old, he asked.
According to Balouch, Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah appointed Jogindera Nath Mandal as the law minister. However, he said, Mandal resigned and returned to Calcutta just a year after Partition when he learnt that the then secretary, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, doubted him.
Balouch further mentioned the first mayor of Karachi, Jamshed Nusserwanji Mehta, who was a Parsi man of high stature. Unfortunately, said Balouch, we have never taken care of the landmarks that these people made for the betterment of the city. According to him, we have never tried to find out Mehta’s achievements for the city, which is probably because we don’t own Karachi or its founders.