Pakistan

Kidnappings, forced conversions of Hindu girls in Pakistan, A wave of fear and anger among Sindh’s Hindu community

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Earlier this month, on April 9, 2016, three teenage girls of Hindu community in Sindh province went missing from their villages.

Threatened by kidnappings and forced conversions of their teenage girls and abandoned by the government of Pakistan, the Hindu minority living in Sindh province is waiting for a divine miracle to rescue them.

Earlier this month, on April 9, 2016, three teenage girls of Hindu community in Sindh province went missing from their villages. The missing includes 14-year-old daughter Pirma Bheel of Sobho Bheel, a resident of Village Nikno Bheel Talka Islamkot, Kiran Menghwar from Hyderabad, and Leelan jogi, the 14-year-old daughter Malook jogi kidnapped from Sanghar district.

A wave of fear and anger has been felt among Sindh’s Hindu community following the kidnapping of Hindu teenage girls. Member of Pakistan’s National Assembly Ramesh Kumar says the girls were kidnapped and converted to Islam forcibly. He alleged that girls have been kidnaped by Influential Muslims of area, including Hayat Hingorjo, allegedly supported by a member of Pakistan’s lower House Faqir Sher Mohammad. Until filing of this report, the whereabouts of all four girls were not known despite continuous efforts by the police and the victim’s families.

The kidnapping of Hindu girls and forced conversion are not new in the Sindh province. Pakistan’s Hindu Council says four Hindu girls every month are forced to convert to Islam.

Burning the religious books of the Hindu minority, kidnapping and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Pakistan have made the lives of the Hindu community miserable, ultimately forcing them to cross border and take refuge in India. Two years ago in May 2014, member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, dropped a bomb shell in the lower House, revealing that around 5,000 Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India every year.

Currently, Pakistan is home to about two million Hindus, most of who live in the southern province of Sindh and belong to lower castes, including Sochi. While upper-caste Hindus complain of their traders being kidnapped for ransom, lower-caste Hindus say their daughters are being targetted. There have been a number of incidents involving kidnappings of Hindu traders and businessmen for ransom.

“Our community can bear looting and the kidnapping of our men, but the abduction of our daughters and burning of holy books are too painful,” Dr Ramesh Kumar, who holds a National Assembly seat, told Mail Today. “Unfortunately, the frequency of these crimes is increasing due to religious extremism.”

According to another report from the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, about 1,000 non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam each year in Pakistan. According to this report, every month, an estimated 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted, although exact figures are impossible to gather.

On April 24, 2016, Patron-inchief of Pakistan Hindu Council, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is in fact a ray of hope for the Hindus community living in Pakistan, criticised provincial governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for failing to protect the minorities. Talking to Mail today, Ramesh Kumar said the establishment of Special Task Force for the Protection of Minorities on urgent basis is the need of time.

He said the Constitution of Pakistan guaranteed for the protection of minorities’ rights, while founder of the Nation Quad-e-Azam had also announced to provide religious freedom for those living in the newly-born Muslim state.

Dr Ramesh said it was highly regrettable that both the provincial governments were not interested in implementing the detailed ruling of the Supreme Court dated June 19, 2014 for providing security to the minorities. “When all other religious places and leaders are having state security then why the innocent Hindu community is being left at the mercy of terrorists,” he questioned while mentioning the recent incident at Dera Murad Jamali, where religious Hindu literature books were stolen from a Hindu temple.

He demanded the provincial governments to take solid steps such as curriculum reforms. “It is really embarrassing that hatred against the Hindu community is being taught in the governmentrun primary schools,” he said.

Sadly, a handful of Muslim clerics consider it an honour to convert non-Muslim girls. Mian Abdul Malik, custodian of the Bharchundi Sharif Shrine, famous for conversions of Hindu girls, said claims were not true. Rather, Hindu girls themselves visit them for conversion to Islam. “There’s no such thing as forced conversions in Islam and in Pakistan,” he told Mail Today adding that girls themselves come to the shrine for conversion. Last year, Malik converted two Hindu men and 15 Hindu women. Asked about this ratio, he said: “Hindu women come readily to us because after conversion we facilitate their marriages to Muslims.”

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