In a historic first, Thari Hindu woman Krishna Kumari was elected to the Senate last Saturday.
Kumari, a rights activist belonging to the Kohli community from the remote village of Dhana Gam in Nagarparkar, was selected as a candidate for a Senate seat by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Kumari was elected to a reserved seat for women from Sindh, along with Quratulain Marri.
“I feel delighted, this was unthinkable for me, to reach the Senate,” Kumari said”.I will continue to work for the rights of the oppressed people, especially for the empowerment of women, their health and education,” she said.
Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla from Jacobabad was the first Hindu woman to be elected to the Senate on a PPP ticket in March 2006.
Born on Feb 1, 1979, Kumari (lovingly called Kishoo Bai by her parents) had a tough childhood when she along with her family members and relatives were held for three years as bonded labour in a private jail allegedly owned by the landlord of Kunri of Umerkot district.
They were set free in a police raid on the farmland of their employer. She started her primary education initially from Talhi village of Umerkot district and then the Tando Kolachi area of Mirpurkhas district.
Her parents facilitated her and her brother Veerji’s studies and academic activities despite the hard days they had been facing.
She attributes her success to her parents, who encouraged her to pursue her education and eventually helped her to earn a university degree.
She was married off to Lal Chand, a student of the Sindh Agriculture Unive¬rsity, Tandojam, in 1994, when she was 16 and a class IX student. She continued her studies after the marriage to get a postgraduate degree in sociology from the University of Sindh.
She started taking part in social activities in 2005 by organising and participating in different seminars in Tharpa¬rkar.
She was selected for the third Mehergarh Human Rights Youth Leadership Training Camp held in 2007 in Islamabad during which she covered an overview of people’s movements in the world, history of social movements in Pakistan and a thorough understanding of the governance system in the country. She also learned strategic planning and tools for bringing social change.
After completing the training, she worked for the Youth Civil Action Progr¬amme to identify cases of bonded labour and conducted case studies focusing women under bondage, organised workshops and seminars on bonded labour, sexual harassment at workplace and other human and women’s rights issues and contributed write-ups to various newspapers.
PPP lawmaker from Thar Dr Mahesh Kumar Malani, when contacted earlier, was hopeful that Kumari, a Kolhi girl from the family of the valiant freedom fighter Rooplo Kolhi would be elected.
Rooplo Kolhi had waged a war against the invading British colonialist forces when they had attacked Sindh from Nagarparkar side in 1857. Subsequently, he was arrested and hanged by the British on August 22, 1858.
Kumari, who worked the fields alongside her parents as a child, will take the oath of office later this month alongside some of the biggest landowners in the country.