New Delhi: The labelling of the coffin of a Hindu killed in last week’s plane crash in Islamabad as `kafir’ (non-believer) by the authorities raised a storm in Pakistan over the treatment meted out to minorities in the country.
Premchand, a social worker from Sanghar in Sindh, was one of the six members of the Youth Parliament, who died in the plane crash.
The controversy erupted after friends of Premchand claimed that his coffin came marked `kafir or ‘infidel’ - mostly used as a serious slur in Pakistan - written out in bold strokes as it lay at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences awaiting collection by his devastated family.
Although, the incident is being termed as “clerical error”, reactions in Pakistan range from remorse and disgust at denying the youngster respect in death.
“It was shocking. He could have been marked as Hindu or non-Muslim, but using the word `kafir’ is the worst example of intolerance.’’ Muneeb Afzal, a Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP) was quoted as saying.
Expressing their anger and remorse in online discussion forums, Premchand’s friends said the death of all passengers, irrespective of their caste, colour and religion, should have been treated as a matter of national tragedy.
Several members of the Youth Parliament wrote, “Literally labelling someone’s coffin as `kafir’ and not even giving them the respect to list their religion by its proper name is a shameful and disgusting way to disrespect the last remains of anyone. All the more so the last remains of a patriotic Pakistani, who was on that plane solely to represent Pakistan, and to seek to be a better citizen, deserved a much better treatment.’’
MYPs, in a good gesture, later wrote on his coffin, "We love you – from the Youth Parliament’’