Conversion, perversion

Even before the shock generated by the kidnap of two Hindu girls in Pakistan, who were forcefully converted to Islam in Sindh province last week, is yet to die down, reports have emerged from the neighbouring country that another Hindu girl has been kidnapped. As per the First Information Report registered by the 16-year-old’s father, the incident occurred in village Dhani Buksh Pitafi. According to the FIR, Ghulam Haider Thaheem, along with three accomplices, one of whom the victim’s father identified as Ghulam Nabi Shah, broke into the victim’s house around 3 am and dragged her to a vehicle waiting outside the home after which she was taken away.

Already, two teenagers have approached a court in Pakistan’s Punjab province seeking protection. The two were allegedly kidnapped by a group of ‘influential’ men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the nikah (marriage) of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage. According to Geo TV, the teenagers approached a court in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province seeking protection. ‘Police have, meanwhile, arrested a man from Khanpur who is suspected to have assisted in the nikah (marital contract) of the girls,’ it said.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has asked Pakistan to ensure immediate release of the two Hindu girls allegedly kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam in Sindh province last week. ‘Justice demands that both these girls should be restored to their family immediately,’ she tweeted. ‘Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan: The age of the girls is not disputed. Raveena is only 13 and Reena is 15 years old,’ she said, and added: ‘Even the Prime Minister on Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage.’ In a welcome step, the Islamabad High Court has ordered the Pakistan government to immediately recover the two minor Hindu girls who were forcefully converted to Islam, while Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered a probe. But, stronger measures are needed to prevent such happenings in future. While people can embrace any faith out of their own will, forced conversions are, no doubt, acts of perversion.

NT Bureau