Over 50 Pakistani Hindus have converted to Islam in the Sialkot district of Punjab within a week (between May 14 and May 19) under pressure from their Muslim employers in a bid to retain their jobs and survive in the Muslim-dominated society.As many as 35 Hindus converted to Islam on May 14, another 14 on May 17 and eight on May 19, 2010.
All the 57 Hindus who have converted belong to the Pasroor town of Sialkot.
According to some Pakistani electronic media reports, Mangut Ram, a close relative of some of the new converts, who lives in Sialkot, said that these Hindus had to embrace Islam because they were under pressure from their Muslim employers.
He said four Hindu brothers along with their families lived in the village of Nikki Pindi. Mangut Ram said that Hans Raj, Kans Raj, Meena/Kartar and Sardari Lal along with his nephews and sons worked at an eatery in Karachi.
According to Mangut Ram, his co workers often used to speak against Hindus in Karachi where his family worked. "The owner of the shop where I worked said that after a few months of his employing me the sales dropped drastically because people avoided purchasing and eating edibles prepared by Hindus. Many people opposed the large presence of Hindu employees at his shop and my boss felt pressured to change the situation," he added.
Ram said Sardari Lal and his brother Meena/Kartar had worked at the sweets shops for several years and made a decent living that allowed them to support their families.
He said other Muslims employees of the nearby shops discriminated against them and persecuted them. The shop owner was forced to think about their future at his establishment. "That was when the two brothers and their families decided to embrace Islam in order to keep their jobs and be secure," he added.
Ram confirmed that 13 family members of Sardari Lal, 12 members of Meena/ Kartar, their nephew Kans Raj's son Boota Ram along with three adults and several children of these families embraced Islam on May 14, 2010.
He said that Sardari Lal's older brothers Hans Raj and Kans Raj remained Hindus. Hans Raj too has said that he might consider converting to save his job. He said that life was 'just easier if one was Muslim' and he wouldn't be discriminated against.
Ram said that 14 Hindus of the Tapiala village had embraced Islam on May 17 because they were extremely poor and could not get jobs because no one would employ the large Hindu family.
He said that another relative of his, Parkash, who lived in the village of Seowal, along with his eight family members had embraced Islam in order to save their lands.
"After embracing Islam, Parkash Ram told me that Muslim neighbours had been mistreating him and had forced him to convert," Mangut Ram said.