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Just two days after minor sisters Reena (15) and Raveena (13) were allegedly kidnapped, converted to Islam forcibly and married off to Muslim men on the eve of Holi in Pakistan’s Sindh province, another Hindu girl was abducted in the southern province.
In a little over one month in Sindh, there have been as many as seven incidents of Hindu girls being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. In the same period, two Hindus were also killed.
16-year-old Mala Kumari Meghwar was allegedly abducted from her home in Sindh’s Badin district on the night of Monday, March 25. According to a Pakistani Hindu leader, local police refused to lodge an FIR in the case.
The police have been directed by Hari Ram Kishori Lal, Sindh minister for minority affairs, to register a case for abduction. Sindh minorities affairs director Mushtaq Ahmed was also directed by the Minister to ensure immediate recovery of the kidnapped girl.
A source who wished to remain anonymous told The Times Of India that quite a few elite Hindu politicians in Pakistan are serving the interests of the ruling government, instead of helping the Hindu community, the largest minority group in Pakistan. “These leaders prefer to hide the facts about abductions of Hindu girls and when the news is revealed through other channels, they make huge announcements,” said the source.
Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Hindu parliamentarian from Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, tabled two bills and one resolution against child marriages, forced conversations and for the protection of minorities in the National Assembly in Islamabad. The two bills are the Child Marriage Restraint Act (Amendment 2019) and the Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act, 2019.
On March 20, six armed men barged into the house of the minor girls, held the family hostage at gunpoint and left with the two sisters, according to the First Information Report filed by the girls’ brother, Shaman Lal.
Soon after that, a video went viral on social media in which the girls’ father can be seen beating his chest in protest, claiming that his daughters were abducted, married off to Muslim boys and forcefully converted to Islam.
Shaman alleged that an influential Muslim family, which has the backing of clerics from Bharchundi Shareef Dargah in Daharki taluk of Ghotki, abducted his sisters and converted them at gunpoint. Bharchundi Shareef Dargah is an institution that is known for backing forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan.
“We demand the government take notice of this incident and ensure their [girl’s] reunion with us. Prime Minister Imran Khan must intervene and do the needful,” Shaman added.
While Pakistani media claimed that a video that surfaced showed the girls confess that they converted to Islam willingly, Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj refuted the claims saying, “Even the Prime Minister of Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage.”
Islamabad High Court directed official protection to these two girls. A probe has also been ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan in order to ascertain whether the two sisters have been kidnapped, married off and forcibly converted.
Local agencies carried out research which suggested that each year, almost 300 Hindu girls are forcibly converted to Islam and made to marry Muslim men, who are already married in 95% cases.
However, provincial law states that underage girls/boys cannot be converted unless their parents are present.
Recent incidents of forced conversion of young girls have shaken the minority community of Pakistan’s Sindh province, which is home to a majority of Hindu community. A Hindu-dominated region of Pakistan, interior Sindh has seen several incidents of Hindu girls being abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.
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