Islamabad: Hindu women in Pakistan are under constant threat of being kidnapped forced into religion conversion and marriage against their wishes. The fear among Hindu families is such that they have stopped sending their girls to schools out of fear that they might be kidnapped, an article appearing in the Express Tribune has said.
Authored by Kamal Siddiqi, a former editor of the paper, the article says that the manner in which the Hindu community is being treated in Sindh province is and should be a matter of shame for all Pakistanis.
“In present day Pakistan, Hindu women are under constant danger of being kidnapped and then converted to Islam, forcing the hapless woman to break all ties with their families and live the rest of their lives in an alien environment, married to a stranger. Such criminal incidents are unfortunately presented in Pakistan as a good deed under the garb of religion,” Siddiqi says in his article.
Pointing to a shrine near Sukkur called the Dargah Bharchundi Sharif, he claims that over the past three years, more than 150 hapless Hindu girls have been converted to Islam at this shrine. The current Pir of Bharchundi Dargah is MPA Mian Abdul Khaliq.
Narrating events surrounding such incidents, Siddiqi says once a girl is kidnapped, her family runs from pillar to post to get information about her whereabouts, even as the state machinery works in favour of the kidnappers. After much to and fro, an FIR is lodged, but by that time, the Pir in Dargah Bharchundi has already issued a “conversion certificate” and married off the couple. So, when the police finally locates the couple to present them in court, all the legal formalities have been completed.
The article also shames “a former governor of Sindh who returned a unanimously passed bill that would have helped criminalise forced abductions for reconsideration.”
The Sindh Assembly”s Forced Conversion Bill, a private bill jointly moved by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (F) lawmakers, was passed unanimously on November 24, 2016. It recommended that change of religion not be recognised until a person becomes 18.
This week, the Pakistan Hindu Council has appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the rise in kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages of underage Hindu girls to Muslim men. The architect of the bill, Nand Kumar, insists that the legislation is against forced conversion not conversion per se. No one can stop an adult converting from one religion to another of their own free will.
We are told that the chief of the Jamat-e-Islami, Maulana Sirajul Haq, phoned the co-chairperson of the PPP, Asif Zardari, to have the bill withdrawn, reports the article.
It stresses that some of the most regressive legislation and measures against minorities have taken place during the tenure of popularly elected prime ministers like Liaquat Ali Khan, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and not that of military dictators.