KARACHI, March 4: An alliance of minority parties on Sunday appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to take a suo motu notice of the kidnapping of a Hindu girl and order her immediate return to her parents to restore the waning sense of security in the minorities.
Speaking at a protest demonstration staged outside the Karachi Press Club, Pakistan Minority Leaders Alliance representatives said they would launch a protest movement and stage a sit-in on March 10 if the authorities failed to recover the girl, Rinkle Kumari.
According to an uncle of the girl, Raj Kumar, she was kidnapped from her house in Mirpur Mathelo over a week ago and forced to marry Naveed Shah and change her religion. He alleged that the case was heard by a civil judge in Ghotki, but he did not allow her relatives to enter the courtroom while giving a verdict in favour of the ‘kidnapper’, Mr Shah.
Speaking on the occasion, Jeay Sindh Mahaz chief Riaz Chandio expressed solidarity with the minority community members and demanded arrest of and punishment to culprits involved in her kidnapping.
He said those belonging to religious minority groups, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, were sons of the soil. They should not feel threatened by such acts, as all Sindhis were one and that they were equal citizens and had equal rights, he said.
He said it was unfortunate that the girl was given in police custody instead of being sent to Darul Aman.
Mr Chandio announced that if “the daughter of Sindh” was not rescued and returned and culprits were not arrested soon and punished according to law, a province-wide sit-it would be staged on Saturday.
Manohar Lal, Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker in the national assembly, condemned the kidnapping and forced conversion of a young girl. He urged the president to take notice of the incident.
He said Islam guaranteed protection to minorities, but such people were giving a bad name to the religion. With such incidents, a sense of insecurity was growing in the community, he said. Earlier their sons were kidnapped for ransom, but now their daughters were being kidnapped and forcibly converted, he remarked.
Jeay Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party leader Gulzar Soomro said that forced conversions were a conspiracy against Islam, which preaches love and peace and opposes use of force. He said the culprits were agents of the establishment that wanted to divide the Sindhis.
“Our patience should not be mistaken as our weakness,” he warned, seeking her immediate recovery.
A Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader and former lawmaker, Michael Javed, said the Quaid-i-Azam had said that the minorities would be equal citizens in Pakistan, but over the years the Quaid’s message was being forgotten.
Amar Lal, a community leader, said he and the girl’s uncle had met US consulate general staff a few days back and political counsellor Junaid J. Muneer had assured him that the issue would be taken up with the authorities concerned. He said he had also received a call from a former political counsellor of the US embassy in Islamabad, L.K. Robinson, who was currently in Washington. He told him that he would take up the issue with human rights organisations there.
Mahesh Singh, Mangla Sharma, Ramesh Kumar, Vijay Kumar and others also spoke.
Raj Kumar, the girl’s uncle, earlier informed the gathering that on Feb 24, a few armed men barged into her home in Mirpur Mathelo and kidnapped her at gunpoint.
He said a case was filed in a Ghotki court where he said she gave a statement about the threats she had received to convert and marry Naveed Shah or she and her entire family would be killed. He quoted her as saying in the court that she wanted to return and live with her parents.
He also alleged that the judge, in the presence of gunmen in the court, sent her to police custody rather than to her parents’ home or to a shelter home. The next hearing was scheduled to be held at 11am on Feb 27, but the case was heard at 8.15am and the girl’s family was not allowed to enter the courtroom, he said, adding that the judge then gave a verdict in favour of Mr Shah.
Mr Kumar urged the chief justice to take a suo motu notice of the issue and order her safe return to her parents.
Earlier, the participants in the demonstration chanted slogans such as ‘we want justice’ and ‘Rinkle be rescued’.