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‘Pakistani Hindu girls get abducted, forced to marry Muslims’

Islamabad: The kidnapping of Manisha Kumari on August 7 had sparked widespread concern in the minority community amidst reports of the exodus of several Hindu families from the region.

A 14-year-old Hindu girl, who was kidnapped from Jacobabad city in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, has been forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man, her father claimed today.

The kidnapping of Manisha Kumari on August 7 had sparked widespread concern in the minority community amidst reports of the exodus of several Hindu families from the region.

Manisha’s father Rewat Mal said his daughter had telephoned him from an unknown location yesterday and said she had converted to Islam and changed her name to Mahwish.

Rewat Mal said Manisha had also told him that she had married a man named Ghulam Mustafa Channa.

“She can never give up her religion. She has been coerced into doing it,” he told reporters in Jacobabad.

He contended that someone had forced Manisha to phone him and inform him about the conversion.

“If such things can happen to a 14-year-old girl, how can we go on living in Pakistan? I can’t show my face to anyone,” he said.

Sanjay Singh, an uncle of Manisha, said her voice had wavered while she was speaking on the telephone and it appeared that someone who was with her was coercing her.

“She sounded scared on the phone. There were people around her dictating things to her, we could hear them giving her instructions,” he said.

The minorities would have no option but to move to India, Singh said.

Sources told PTI that Manisha had reportedly been taken to Sukkur after being kidnapped. She was forced to convert shortly after being kidnapped, they said.

Special Superintendent of Police Younis Chandio said police were on the trail of the abductors and hopeful of tracing Manisha soon.

Police registered a case against three unidentified men following the kidnapping.

Sindh, which has a sizeable population of Hindus, has been rocked by several instances of Hindu women being allegedly forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men this year.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court took up the case of three women – Rinkle Kumari, Lata Kumari and Asha Kumari – who were allegedly forced to convert and marry Muslims.

After a controversial hearing of the matter, the court gave the women the right to decide their future and they chose to go with their husbands.

However, the women’s relatives alleged they had been under pressure even during their appearances in the apex court.

Leaders of minority communities expressed serious reservations at the Supreme Court’s decision and emphasised the need for a comprehensive review of the issue of forced conversions.

The leaders contended that the apex court’s procedures had become an “instrument of injustice” as the principle of free consent was applied loosely or selectively and in disregard to social realities.

Hindus are the largest minority community in Pakistan but make up about two per cent of the population of 180 million.

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