There have been very few times when I have not found the right words to express my grief, sorrow, anger or passion for something and today is one of those days as I write for my man, Prem Chand – A Pakistani Hindu, a true patriot, a social worker who spent his life trying to uplift the condition of his fellow countrymen, he gave sweat and tears to this land of pure. An elected member of PILDAT’s Youth Parliament, whose fellow YP’s say the following about him:
He greeted muslims with a warm Assalamo alaikum…he sent msgs of congratulations on shab barat and other holy days…..He used “Allah” hafiz to bid farewell…and he swore by this name…I hv been with him….He was more of a sufi who believed in all religions and the good things in them.
And it doesnt even matter if he was that intolerant about religious beliefs, even if he were a staunch Hindu he didnot deserve what we gave him. He was on board EQ-202 Airbus 321, Airblue’s flight to Islamabad which crashed in Margalla Hills leaving 152 dead and the nation mourned (officially for 01 day). He was not travelling on personal visit, he was meant to be present at Youth Parliaments session the next day.
And like said above, he gave his sweat and tears to this land of pure – and what did he get? Some religious bigot wrote “Kaafir” (English: Infidel) on his coffin. (Link) We are no short of these religious bigots whose favorite pass time is to judge and discriminate on Pakistanis on basis of their faith – but this sad incident, which killed 152 human beings was an opportunity for these religious fanatics to show their true face. The poor guy, who was born in a Hindu family and spent his life trying to work for the people of his country was given the title of “Kaafir” by someone amongst us. This particular segment of our society pounces on every opportunity to exhibit their religious fanaticism from the very beginning, when Quaid e Azam (the founder of Pakistan) was labelled as “Kaafir-e-Azam”.
Bear in mind, Pakistan was made because people of Indo-Pak subcontinent felt they were discriminated upon on the basis of their faith – The same we are doing with our minorities.
I would cross-post some of his words here:
I believe in democratic process, because true democracy can solve all problems of state. – Prem Chand.
Prem Chand’s last status update on Facebook was: “Comments Can Make a Person & Comments Can Break a Person.”So Be Careful and Ethical While Giving Comments for Someone.” – He rightly said so. A single word comment on his coffin has shattered many across Pakistan.
I protest against these religious fanatics and I salute Prem Chand – And all the Prem Chands in the making and I confess to the religious minorities of Pakistan – that just because of our silence, just because of our muted response to injustices done to you – we stand here after 64 years. I dig my head in shame, and I vow to fight for you, for us, for the Pakistan we were supposed to have.
Please join this page on facebook as we try to take it from, to pick it from here and voice out for minorities of Pakistan.
Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
Below is the letter written by Zulqarnain, Prem’s friend:
Its very painful for me to write to defend such gem of a person. But in a society like ours where people are discriminated on the basis of their faith, Its essential to show these religious bigots their real face.
Prem chand was born to a poor family and was its lone feeder. He belonged to Sanghar, Sindh. He was 25 and was married and also had children. He, however, looked younger than his age and we also used to crack jokes on him for this which he thoroughly enjoyed. He certainly was not a “man” and had those boyish looks. He was doing masters from Sindh university, something pertaining to Social work. He not only called himself a social worker but his text messages also bore this signature. The signature was later changed to “YP Minister” when he was made minister for Youth affairs, culture and sports in previous session of YP. This honour was well deserved as he had prepared and presented a comprehensive research report on state of social welfare in Pakistan. He was hardworking, dedicated and sincere. His educational back ground was such that he could not make flowery speeches.
He was not good at speaking English and his Urdu also had that pinch of Sindhi accent but this never deterred him to stand up and speak whenever he wanted. He was a patriot and loved pakistan, worried about it as much as we “muslims” do, brought resolutions, prepared them, asked for help, tried to pinpoint and resolve all the problems that Pakistan faces, spoke against India on water issue and had no qualms on the prospect of going to war with her. I say all this to show that he was “normal”. He was not alien or “Indian”.
I have met many people from religious minorities. All of them have that peculiar air about them. they lack confidence, they have fears of the unknown, They are very cautious. Prem Chand also seemed to be the victim of discrimination. Though that did not make him a loner, but it sure taught him to love more. He over tried. tried to be more good to you than u wud expect, tried to make good friends of everyone. Most of the time he lived in the room right next to me during the sessions so he often came over to my room. Thats when I observed this. He would send u text messages just to stay in touch. he wont mind if u didnt reply. I guess, he could not afford to be egotistic.
He was very tolerant in his religious views. We never discussed religion much. Though once I remember a fellow colleague of us talked to him in good faith. He probably wanted to convert him to Islam. Though he never said so. There I came to know that Prem knew much about Islam. He liked Zakir Nayak and comparative studies of different religions. He was interested in Sufism as well. And he wont mind if u asked him questions about hinduism. When interacting with us he would use “muslim” greetings not to prove anything but simply to avoid putting others in a difficult situation.
I still remember the time when we used to hang out. He used to borrow cigarettes from friends and puff away scores of them just for the fun of it. He was not a smoker though. I also remember that prem did not have a FB account. He also did not know how to make one so Hassan Javed (the late youth prime minister) made one for him on his laptop. When the account was made he jokingly asked Hassan to allow him to add Hassan’s female friends as he did not have girlfriends of his own……Thats all I can remember right now hope it helps.
Following is a comment by another colleague of Prem:
I am Muneeb Afzal, a Member of Youth parliament of Pakistan and a Colleague and Friend of Late Prem Chand. An extremely hard-working person he was a symbol of tolerance. My last communication with him was on night before the Air Crash, he gave his greetings to me on ocassion of 15th of Shabaan.
At PIMS fortunately another friend of ours was there when Prem’s Cousin Nanik Das came to search for his body, he quickly hid the tag ‘kafir’ by putting marker lines on it, so that Prem’s family which is already suffering from great grief does not have to bear more hurt. Although later at a memorial session where media was present I criticized the inhumanity and intolerance of those who did this shameful act. I felt this was my duty to my Late friend Prem Chand that i make it clear to the world that we condemn this act of intolerance and Narrow Minded-ness. But a lot of my other colleagues have since objected to my speaking out, believing that my saying this and this news spreading in media would add to hurt of Prem’s family, and in a way they are right too. I would like you all to also keep this in mind as well…
Rest In Peace dear Prem Chand