The outrage over the kidnapping, forcible conversion and marriages of two teenage Hindu girls in Pakistan had yet not settled when another fresh report of a Hindu minor girl belonging to the Meghwar community, being kidnapped from Tando Bagho in Badin district in Pakistan’s Sindh province has surfaced.
The victim’s father has reportedly approached SSP Badin, Sardar Hassan Niazi, to register a case against suspects. According to the First Information Report (FIR) registered by 16-year-old Mala Meghwar’s father, the incident occurred in Village Dhani Buksh Pitafi on an intervening night between March 16 and 17.
As per the report, four men broke into their house at around 3 am and dragged the minor girl to a vehicle waiting outside the home and took her away.
A war of words broke out between India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry over the reported abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of the two Hindu teenagers.
Raising doubts at Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’, Sushma Swaraj blasted at the government saying 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.
As Pakistan lobbied accusations of mistreatment of Muslims by India, India’s foreign ministry detailed three more examples of forced marriages of Hindu or Sikh women in Pakistan over the past two years.
The severe outrage compelled the Islamabad High Court to order the state to ensure that the two girls who were abducted and forcefully married to Muslim men following forced religious conversion are taken into protective custody.
However, after receiving severe backlash for being callous and apathetic over the rights of minorities, the Pakistan police finally arrested seven accused in connection to the alleged abduction, forced religious conversion and illegal marriage of the two minor Hindu girls.
Notably, 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.