Saturday January 28, 2023

Pakistan Hindu Council protests against ‘forced conversions’ of Hindu girls

July 06, 2019

A large number of members of the Hindu community on Friday participated in a protest outside the Karachi Press Club against the increasing alleged incidents of kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls.

The protest was organised by the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), a Hindu rights body, and attended by a large number of people, including parliamentarians, civil society activists, and community leaders.

The protesters carried banners and placards inscribed with slogans against alleged atrocities against the minority community in the province. “Stop the forced conversion of Hindu girls after kidnapping them”, “Forced conversion is not an Islamic ideology”, and “Please let us live peacefully” were the some of the slogans written on the placards. The participants also shouted slogans for the protection of womenfolk of the Hindu community.

Hindu parliamentarians who attended the protest included PHC patron-in-chief and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA Kheeal Das Kohistani of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), MPA Mangla Sharma of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and PTI MPA Sanjay Gangwani. Noted civil society activists Ross Mahtani and Jaipal Chhabria were also among the participants. The protesters lamented that cases of abductions, forced conversions and forced marriages of teenage Hindu girls were on the rise across the province. Forced conversions were too easily and too often disguised as voluntary conversions, leaving minor girls especially vulnerable, they said.

Mentioning a recent case that occurred in Thatta district, the speakers said a girl, who was an intermediate student, appeared in a court in Karachi and it was claimed that she had embraced Islam and contracted a marriage with her teacher. Expressing serious doubts over the claim, they said they would seek every forum for her recovery.

The speakers said the country’s Constitution guaranteed protection to the life and property of all the citizens but still the Hindu community felt insecure due to frequent incidents of kidnappings and forced conversions of their girls.

One of the participants told The News that many Hindu families were afraid of sending their daughters to educational institutions. “We raise the question why it is that only young Hindu girls were inspired to embrace Islam,” he said. “Why don’t we find older Hindus doing the same?”

They reiterated their demand of the Sindh government to resurrect and pass the bill criminalizing forced religious conversions and subsequent forced marriages. On Thursday in Hyderabad, several hundreds of members of the Hindu community – mainly women – held a procession from the Pakistan Chowk to the Hyderabad Press Club against the increasing incidents of forced conversions of Hindu girls.

Vankwani meets IGP

The PHC patron-in-chief also met Sindh Inspector General of Police Dr Kaleem Imam at his office before the protest on Friday and asked him to provide security to the Hindu community members protesting outside the KPC against the rise in alleged cases of forced conversions.

Dr Imam directed the South SSP to provide security to the protesters and also told him to meet the protest’s organiser in person, according to a statement issued by the police. The police chief also said he would meet PHC leaders and parliamentarians to discuss the issues being faced by the Hindu community so that a proper strategy could be devised to resolve them.