New Delhi: India on Sunday raised the issue the abduction of the two Hindu girls in Pakistan's southern Sindh province. In an official note verbale to Pakistan Foreign office, New Delhi shared its concern and called for suitable remedial action by the neighbour nation.
India further called on the Pakistan government to "protect and promote safety, security and welfare of it's own citizens, especially from the minority communities."
The development comes in the backdrop of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj asking Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Ajay Bisaria to send a report on the abduction of Hindu girls on Twitter, which drew an angry response from Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.
“I only asked for a report from Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad about the kidnapping and forced conversion of two minor Hindu girls to Islam. This was enough to make you jittery. This only shows your guilty conscience,” Swaraj responded.
According to Pakistani media reports, Hindu girls Reena and Raveena, hailing from village Hafiz Salman near the town of Daharki in Sindh, were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam on March 20, before being married to Muslim men.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered a probe into it.
The Pakistan Hindu Council, headed by National Assembly member Ramesh Vankwani, has called for strict action against clerics Miyan Mithu Barchundi and Pir Ayub jan Sirhindi. The minorities in the Sindh region alleged that the duo is responsible for the abduction of several Hindu girls.
Sarhandi shrine in Samaro tehsil of Umerkot district and Bharchundi Sharif in Sindh's Mirpurkhas district have several reports of forceful religious conversions of Hindu underage girls and women to Islam.
New Delhi's strong stance is likely to irk Pakistan that has been raising the issue of minorities in India for months now. Imran Khan has tweeted about the situation of minorities in India on multiple occasions.
"Naya Pakistan is Quaid’s Pakistan and will ensure that our minorities are treated as equal citizens, unlike what is happening in India," tweeted Khan on December 25, 2018 – the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Sindh in southern Pakistan has a higher percentage of Hindus than the rest of the country. The three districts of Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Umerkot have 33 per cent, 36 per cent and 49 per cent of Hindu population respectively. These three districts also report the highest percentage of forced conversion and marriages of underage Hindu girls.
In the past, India has strongly raised the situation of minorities in Pakistan. These cases include the abduction of 16-year-old Hindu girl Anusha Kumari in January 2019, forceful conversation of 16-year-old Hindu girl Ravita Meghwar on June 07, 2017 and kidnapping of 17-year-old Sikh girl Priya Kaur who was later married off to Wajid Ali in Buner district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in April 2017. New Delhi has also taken up the cases of intimidation of Sikhs and Hindus, desecration of their worship places.