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Pakistan's Islamabad High Court To Probe Hindu Girls 'Forced' Conversion

Darpan News Desk IANS, 02 Apr, 2019
  • Pakistan's Islamabad High Court To Probe Hindu Girls 'Forced' Conversion

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday constituted a five-member commission to probe the alleged abduction, forced conversion and marriage of two Hindu sisters in Sindh province that led to protests by the minority community in the country.

 

A bench headed by Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by the girls -- Reena, Raveena and their husbands Safdar Ali and Barkat Ali -- seeking protection, Geo News reported.

 

The petition by the girls stated that they were born in a Hindu family of Ghotki, Sindh and converted because they were "impressed by Islamic teachings". It claimed that they did not inform their family because of "threats to their lives".

 
 

The plea also stated that the two girls left their home on March 20 and two days later they willingly converted and entered into marriages.

 

However, the counsel for the girls' parents said that the case pertained to forced conversion.

 

The government took notice of the incident after two videos went viral on social media, Geo News said.

 

In one of the videos, the girls' father and brother revealed the details, claiming that the sisters were abducted from their residence and forcefully converted from Hinduism to Islam before they were subjected to underage marriages.

 

In the video, the girls' father claimed that they were 13 and 14 years old.

 
 
 
 

It was followed by another video in which the two girls claimed that they had converted to Islam.

 

The girls' father had filed a petition in the IHC on Monday, requesting the court to constitute a medical board "for determination of the exact age" of the two sisters.

 

The petition also sought directions for the government to conduct a psychological test on the girls for Stockholm Syndrome -- a feeling of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.

 

Amid the uproar over the case, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Sindh and Punjab governments to probe the issue and recover the girls if the forceful conversion allegation was correct.

 

Chief Justice Minallah also ordered that a medical board be constituted to determine the age of the girls and asked for its report at the next hearing on April 11.

 

Earlier, a medical report by the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences stated that the girls were not minors at the time of their marriages.

 

The medical report was dismissed by the sisters' family as well as opposition lawmaker from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Darshan Punshi, who belongs to the Hindu community.

 

Disappointed over the alleged attempts by certain Muslim fundamentalist groups to prove that the two Hindu girls who were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam were adults and not minors, the Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust has claimed that the birth certificates of the girls were being deliberately ignored.

 

President of the Trust, Sanjesh Dhanja wondered that why the birth certificates of Raveena and Reena which were issued by Pakistan government were being ignored and everyone was being made to believe that the girls were adults on the basis of medical report of a hospital.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This case has yet again brought to the fore the issue that has been haunting non-Muslim communities, especially Hindus, for the last several years. Most such complaints and cases are being reported on a regular basis from Sindh, where most of the Hindu community lives.

 

“Abductions and forced conversions are some of the most serious problems Hindu women are facing these days,” says Birma Jesrani, a Hindu activist who led the ‘Stop Forced Conversions Action Committee’, a body of rights activists formed last week in Karachi, to show concerns over abductions.

 
 
 
 

The body organised a protest on March 24 against the recent case of alleged conversion of Reena and Raveena outside the Karachi Press Club in which a large number of activists, Hindu community members and parliamentarians from opposition parties participated.

 

Speakers at the protest said that minorities, especially Hindu, often do not receive the protection required from state institutions and lack access to justice.

 

Community activists also claim that after kidnapping the girls, conversion and marriage were being used as legal cover to protect the abductors. “In such cases, girls were threatened into giving false statements in court,” Jesrani tells

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