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Abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls: Sushma Swaraj questions Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’

The local police in Sindh had only registered the FIR in the case after local Hindus took to the streets. The Islamic clerics responsible for the acts have been allegedly involved in the systematic abduction, forced conversions and marriage of numerous Hindu girls in the region.

Two underage Hindu girls Raveena (13) and Reena (15) had been abducted from their home in Pakistan’s Sindh on the eve of Holi. The girls have since been forcefully converted and married off to older Muslim men. The case has generated widespread outrage among the minority Hindus of Pakistan who have been struggling for their rights under apathetic governments in Pakistan.

The FIR in the case could only be registered after the Hindus in the region took to streets in protest. The videos of the girls being converted and married have been doing rounds on the social media and Islamic clerics have been claiming that the girls, aged just 13 and 15, have converted to Islam under their own free will and were married to Muslim men.

India’s minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj had taken cognisance of the issue earlier and had asked the Indian High Commission in Pakistan for a detailed report of the incident.

Pakistan’s government has so far been callous and apathetic over the incident. While the local police, who only lodged an FIR after protestors took to streets, have so far been unable to rescue the girls and unite them with their family, Ch Fawad Hussain, Pakistan’s I&B minister had tried to warn Sushma Swaraj for ‘trying to interfere in internal issues’ of Pakistan. Swaraj had replied that his agitation is only betraying his guilty conscience.

Today, Sushma Swaraj has taken the issue further and has implored Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan to take action over the issue. In a series of tweets, Swaraj has stated that the age of the girls is not disputed and they are just 13 and 15 years old. She has stated that even in Imran Khan’s Naya Pakistan, girls of such tender age cannot be treated as individuals who can decide on religious conversions and marriage.

Sushma Swaraj via Twitter

It is notable here that in 2016, the Sindh Assembly had introduced the Forced Conversion Bill to protect the rights of minorities. It was passed jointly by members of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League. However, the bill could not see the light of day as the Governor was pressurised not to ratify the bill.

There have been numerous such cases of Hindu girls being abducted, then forcefully converted and married. The police and the government machinery, instead of taking action against the abductors, usually delay the matter and when the girls are found, the local Islamic cleric produces a certificate of conversion and marriage, making it legally nearly impossible for the families of the girls to take them back.

Mian Mithoo, the religious preacher of the Bharchoondi mosque, is said to be one of the main culprits who has carried out the systematic abductions, conversions, and marriage of many Hindu girls in the region. However, Mian Mithoo enjoys government patronage and is believed to be close to all political leaders and even army generals.

As per reports, despite promises made by local authorities in Sindh to find the girls and reunite them with their families, the police and officials are unable to locate the girls and or find any trace of their whereabouts.

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