Hindu judge in solitary confinement on Diwali in Pakistan

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Islamabad, Nov 10 (UNI) While Hindus worldwide celebrated Diwali, the only Hindu and one of the senior-most judges of Pakistan's Supreme Court spent the day alone, under house arrest and solitary confinement because he has refused to support what he considers ''unconstitutional action by the military regime''.

Sacked Justice Rana Bhagwandas, who refused to take oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) promulgated on November 3, remained confined and was not allowed to even visit his brother's home here yesterday on one of the holiest days of the Hindu calendar, Daily Times reported.

All this runs contrary to on-the-record statements issued by the Attorney General (AG) that all judges are free to move wherever they want, and that there are no formal restrictions on their mobility.

Questions are also arising with regards to the claims and portrayal of President Pervez Musharraf as a torch bearer of religious tolerance and harmony.

Bhagwandas happens to be a very religious person. He has never missed his religious festivals.

He told Daily Times over the phone,''I used to participate in Diwali every year in Karachi with my family, relatives and associates. This year I am not even allowed to celebrate it with my brother or community in Islamabad.'' He said chief justices used to facilitate him by scheduling sittings for him in the Karachi registry bench before Diwali every year.

On Thursday, the government offered him a mobile squad that would have escorted him yesterday if he wanted to move about in the city.

He told a district magistrate that he planned to visit his brother's house in G-10 and two other places within the city.

The district magistrate talked to the city's deputy commissioner, who contacted the senior government officials, and finally denied his request. He said he was told that he could go to Karachi.

''I had no plan to leave the city. I just wanted to visit some friends and my brother's family in Islamabad and worship with them but they [the government] did not allow me,'' he said.

Bhagwandas, who has stayed calm during his house arrest, which has lasted for one week and counting, said his morale was still high.


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