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7 held for abduction of Hindu girls in Pakistan

The suspects were handed over to Sindh Police. The deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Ghotki visited the families of the girls and informed them of the arrests. Police officials said action is being taken to recover the girls.

world Updated: Mar 26, 2019 00:44 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad and Rezaul H Laskar
Imtiaz Ahmad and Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad/New Delhi
Pakistan,Hindu,girls
Arrest-handcuffs.

Pakistani police have arrested seven people allegedly involved in arranging the marriage of two minor Hindu girls who were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam, hours after a spat between Indian and Pakistani ministers over the treatment of minorities.

On Sunday, police conducted raids in Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab province — where the girls were reportedly taken from Ghotki in Sindh province — and arrested the man who solemnised the marriages, a leader of Pakistan Sunni Tehreek and relatives of the men who married the teenage girls.

The suspects were handed over to Sindh Police. The deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Ghotki visited the families of the girls and informed them of the arrests. Police officials said action is being taken to recover the girls.

The Pakistan government acted on Saturday after two videos on the marriages did the rounds on social media. The father and brother of the two sisters said they were abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. However, a video showed the girls saying they had accepted Islam of their free will.

Police said a kidnapping case was registered at Daharki police station in Sindh. However, the girls also approached a court on Sunday, seeking protection.

Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered the Sindh government to launch a probe into reports that the girls were abducted and forcibly converted.

After external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Sunday that she had sought a report on the incident from the Indian envoy in Islamabad, Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry responded by saying it was an “internal issue” and that Swaraj should act with “same diligence” about India’s minorities.

The Nehru-Liaquat Agreement of April 1950, regarding the security and rights of minorities, enjoins the two countries to ensure “complete equality of citizenship” and “full sense of security” for their minorities.

The pact, signed following communal disturbances in Bengal, Assam and Tripura, states minorities should look “to the Government of their own State” for the “redress of their grievances”, and that the two government will “not recognise forced conversions”.

Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, a distinguished fellow with Observer Research Foundation and a former diplomat who has served in Pakistan, said Islamabad had rarely adhered to such agreements. He said a study of the population of minorities in the two countries would show how drastically the number of Hindus in Pakistan had declined over the decades. “This agreement was signed in 1950 to avert any large-scale movement of people and communal riots, and it was agreed that both sides would assure the rights of minorities,” he said. “With the Wahabi Islamisation of Pakistan during the regime of Zia-ul-Haq, things have gone downhill since then.”

Ramesh Vankwani, a prominent Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said he would submit a resolution during the National Assembly’s next session to demand an end to forced conversions.

First Published: Mar 25, 2019 21:31 IST