Forced conversions hit Pakistani minorities

Apr 1, 2019 by

Rising incidences in Pakistan of forced conversions to Islam have raised fresh fears for minorities in the Islamic republic, following the abduction of two Hindu teenage girls in Sindh province last week.

Over the course of the last month, underage Hindu girls have been abducted in different parts of Sindh province. Pakistan’s state agencies have been criticized for failing to protect minorities in Pakistan with Hindus and Christians bearing the brunt of forced “conversions” of teenaged girls who are then forced to marry Muslim men.

The latest incident was reported  last week when the father of a 14-year-old girl Mala Kumari Meghwar, filed a complaint with Sindh’s Badin district police station claiming that four men had abducted his daughter at gunpoint on March 17 from the village of Pitafi. Later, one of the kidnappers informed the reporters that the victim had converted to Islam “of her own free will” and married him.

This happened even as Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his apprehensions over the alleged forced conversions and underage marriages of teenage sisters Reena (15) and Raveena (13) in Sindh’s Ghotki district on the eve of Holi festival celebrations. The prime minister instructed the chief ministers of Sindh and Punjab to immediately arrest the culprits involved in the incident and recover the girls.

The two abducted sisters and their “spouses” approached the Islamabad High Court on Monday seeking protection as the police arrested 14 suspects along with a Nikkah Khwan (an official registering the marriage contract). The court admitted the petition filed by the two Hindu sisters for a regular hearing and ordered the state to take the girls into custody for their protection.

The forced marriages of abducted sisters have been publicly legitimized by powerful religious lobbies running seminaries in the interior Sindh province of Pakistan. The leaders of Hindu minority groups claim that political and religious forces are involved in the abductions and the state seems helpless to take action against them.

Member of parliament and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Kesso Mal Kheeal Das told Asia Times, “It is alarming that only this month seven Hindu girls have been kidnapped, converted to Islam and forced to marry publicly with the backing of influential religious political forces.” The law enforcement agencies, he said, were clueless about the whereabouts of these girls. The PML-N member parliament from the minority Hindu community claimed that he had moved a “call attention” notice in the National Assembly and sought proper legislation to curb the excesses against the Hindu community of Sindh, which was the epicenter of these atrocities. “We do not want something extra-constitutional in demanding protection and honor for the community in line with the Islamic teachings and constitutional provisions,” Kesso Das said, adding that Islam does not approve of compulsion and forced conversion to the faith.

Source: Asia Times | Forced conversions hit Pakistani minorities | Article

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