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January 27, 2020

Protesters call for stopping forced conversions

Karachi

January 27, 2020

A large number of civil society activists, including members of the Hindu community, participated in a sit-in on Sunday to protest against the rise in alleged incidents of kidnappings, forced conversions and harassing religious minorities in the country.

The sit-in was organised outside the Karachi Press Club. The protesters alleged that the most-recent incident of forced conversion that was reported was of 15-year-old Hindu girl Mehak Kumari, a girl from Jacobabad who went missing on January 16. “Her family says a Muslim influential person kidnapped and converted her to Islam at the Dargah Amroot Sharif in Shikarpur and then married her,” one of the protesters said.

The protesters lamented that the police were not taking action under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, it the families involved were non-Muslims. “Unfortunately, the authorities did not show seriousness when minor girls from religious minorities were allegedly kidnapped, forcibly converted and married,” said Birma Jesrani, an activist.

He said instead of recovering such Hindu girls and provide protection to the Hindu community, the police had been harassing members of the Hindu community in Jacobabad. “Police have arrested four Hindu people who protested against forced conversion in false cases of anti-state activities and now have been harassing the community by conducting raids at their houses,” said Raj Kumar, the protest’s organiser.

The protesters also asked why only young Hindu girls were getting inspired to embrace Islam. “Why don’t we find older Hindus doing the same?” said Jesrani.

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