Pak: Probe demanded into forced conversion of girl

The forcible conversion of women has been a sensitive issue for the minority Hindu community.

Islamabad: Human rights activists and the
mother of a teenage Hindu girl who was allegedly abducted and
forced to convert to Islam on Sunday demanded that Pakistan`s
Supreme Court set up a judicial panel to probe the issue.

A day before the Supreme Court resumes hearing the case
of three Hindu women who were allegedly forcibly converted,
Sulachana Kumari contended that her 19-year-old daughter
Rinkle Kumar had been abducted by persons with links to ruling
Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) parliamentarian Mian Abdul Haq
and alias Mian Mithoo.

Addressing a news conference at the National Press Club,
Sulachana and rights activists demanded that the apex court
should set up a judicial commission to establish the truth.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry has directed authorities to produce three Hindu women
who were either allegedly kidnapped or forcibly taken away
before it on Monday.

Two of the women, Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari, have
told lower courts in Karachi that they voluntarily converted
to Islam and married Muslim men.

However, Qadir Khan Mandokhail, the lawyer representing
Sulachana, said Rinkle was forcibly taken away and converted.

"When she appeared before a civil judge in Ghotki (in
Sindh province) on February 25, she said she had been
kidnapped at 4 am and that she wanted to go back to her
family," he said.

"The civil judge was scared and didn`t record her
statement. He sent her to police custody instead," Mandokhail

Mandokhail and Amar Lal, another lawyer and rights
activist, said the Chief Justice should ask Rinkle whether she
wanted to remain with her parents or with Naveed Shah, the man
she has married.

Riaz Chandio, a leader of Jiye Sindh Mahaz, said if
Rinkle accepts that she was not under duress at the time of
her alleged conversion, her family and rights activists would
ensure she is handed over to Shah.

Speaking to a news agency, Amar Lal claimed that 47 Hindu women had
been abducted in Mirpurkhas area of Sindh in recent months.

"Many of these women belong to Scheduled Castes and their
cases are not even reported to authorities," he said.

Minister for National Harmony Akram Masih Gill, a
Christian, last week called for stronger legislation to
protect minorities from forced conversions.

He alleged that 100 non-Muslim women, mostly Hindus, were
forced to convert to Islam in recent months.

The forcible conversion of women has been a sensitive
issue for the minority Hindu community, which makes up less
than three per cent of Pakistan`s population of 180 million.

The issue has been brought into focus due to the interest
taken by the judiciary and rights groups in the cases of
Rinkle and Lata.

President Asif Ali Zardari and his sister,
parliamentarian Azra Fazal Pechuho, have called for action to
prevent forcible conversions.


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