The fury over recent incidents of kidnapping, forcible conversion and marriages of Hindu girls in Pakistan had not yet settled when another such case has been reported from Pakistan’s Hyderabad district.
A 13-year-old Pooja Sotahar Kumari, daughter of Fatan Rathore, resident of village Bakhsho Laghari in Hyderabad district’s Hosri Taluka, was kidnapped, forcefully converted and subsequently married to a man identified as Syed Irshad Shah.
Real pic of Pooja Kumari D/O Fatan Rathore resident of village Bakhsho Laghari Taluka Hosri Distt Hyderabad. She was kidnapped by Syed Irshad Shah. FIR has been lodged at PS Hoosri. FiR No. 148/2019 under 365-B.
From FB #poojakumari pic.twitter.com/wMTfzwbweT
— Tania Saleem (@TaniaPalijo) July 10, 2019
The police have registered an FIR under section 365-B (kidnapping, abducting or inducing a woman to compel for marriage) of the Pakistan Penal Code after the victim’s father lodged a complaint at Hoosri police station in Hyderabad district of Pakistan. They were accompanied to the police station by the human rights activist and advocate Akhtar Laghari.
Police confirmed that a first information report (FIR) over the alleged kidnapping of the Hindu girl from Paban’s Bakhsho Leghari village has been registered and two suspects, which included Irshad’s brother, have been apprehended. The primary accused, however, is still absconding, confirmed the police at the Paban police station.
They also said that the investigation is on and they are yet to recover the missing victim.
There have been many such cases reported in the recent past. On March 20, two underage Hindu girls Raveena (13) and Reena (15) were abducted from their home in Pakistan’s Sindh on the eve of Holi. The girls were later forcefully converted and married off to older Muslim men. The case had generated widespread outrage among the minority Hindus of Pakistan who have been struggling for their rights under apathetic governments in Pakistan.
Within days of this deplorable incident, another Hindu minor girl belonging to the Meghwar community was also allegedly kidnapped from Tando Bagho in Badin district in Pakistan’s Sindh province.
Recently, a report released by the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) threw light on the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan. The report claims that around 1000 girls from religious minorities are forcibly converted to Islam every year. The numbers might be higher as many cases are not even reported.
The report provides a pattern of how such cases are dealt with authorities, how it acts as a deterrence for the minority communities in filing cases. The local police are often biased in favour of the majority community. As soon as the incidents of abduction and rape become public, the abductors tend to marry off the victim in an attempt to clear the suspicion of sexual assault.
This is often followed by abductors filing counter-complaints against the victim’s family of harassing the girl and conspiring to convert her back. If a case somehow reaches the court, the victim is required to testify whether she converted and married out of her own free will. Since in most cases, the victim remains in the custody of the abductor during the course of proceedings, she is forced to testify that she converted out of her own free will and the case is closed.