By Khaled Ahmed
The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence
A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.
According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.
Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.
The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.
A tale of migrating Hindus
By: Kashif Hussain
Patriotic Hindus, who had refused to migrate to India and remained in Pakistan after the partition in 1947, are compelled to leave the country because of feudalism, class system, religious discrimination, forced conversion and marriages and poor law and order situation in Pakistan.
LAHORE: Patriotic Hindus, who had refused to migrate to India and remained in Pakistan after the partition in 1947, are compelled to leave the country because of feudalism, class system, religious discrimination, forced conversion and marriages and poor law and order situation in Pakistan.
The minority feels society has become more insecure for their young girls and it is also scared after court’s decision in Rinkal Kumari’s conversion case.
The teenage girl, Manisha Kumari, was kidnapped from Jacobabad in Sindh, which has a sizeable Hindu population, on Tuesday, Pakistan Hindu Council president Jethanand Doonger Mal Kohistani said today.
“Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has taken notice of the matter and asked provincial Minority Affairs Minister Mohan Lal to visit Jacobabad to look into the issue,” Kohistani told . The kidnapping of the girl from Jacobabad and the abduction of 11 Hindu traders from Balochistan and Sindh provinces over the past few months has added to the community’s concerns, Kohistani said.
“There is sadness among Hindus as the law and order situation is deteriorating. Even Muslims have been affected by the deteriorating situation, it is not just the Hindus,” he said. Though TV news channels claimed several Hindu families from Jacobabad had decided to migrate to India because of forced conversions, extortion and kidnapping, Kohistani and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan activist Amarnath Motumal said there was no evidence to substantiate these reports.
Hindu migration a concern in Pakistan
Every month one family migrates to India, say action groups
By: Ayyaz Gulzar, Karachi
Hindu leaders in Pakistan say persecution is the main reason for the recent migration of members of their community from the country.
“Every month a Hindu family leaves for neighboring India. Insecurity, killings, kidnappings and forcible conversion of women to Islam are the major causes,” said Jaipal Chabria, a Hindu politician in Pakistan.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says that every year about 300 Hindu girls are abducted and converted to Islam against their will in Sindh province alone.
Hyderabad diocese’s Vicar General Father Samson Shukardin also referred to “increasing frustration” among minority groups. “Most of the cases registered from Hindu families are from the Haris (peasants) community. The recent murder of the only Catholic federal minister has also increased desperation among minority groups,” said the director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace in the Catholic diocese in Sindh province. “Many Christian families wish to leave the country but cannot do so because they are poor,” he said adding “Minorities are feeling left out.” ….
Read more » UCA News
A Sindhi Saga: The Abduction of Our Daughters
By: Viju Sidhwani
Hindus have remained a minority in Pakistan since the creation of the country in 1947 when India was partitioned into two separate countries: a new India and Pakistan. Since its inception Pakistan has struggled with supporting a democratic government from being overtaken by a military dictatorship, sectarian violence, and harsh treatment of its minorities including Hindus, Shias, Christians, Sikhs, and several other communities.
In particular Hindus in Pakistan have experienced harsh and severely inhumane living conditions. Kidnappings, physical and psychological torture, rapes, forced conversions to Islam, forced marriages of young Hindu girls to Muslim men, lack of police protection, bonded labor, and religious-based discrimination have become the norm for Hindus who involuntarily became citizens of the newly created Islamic Republic in 1947. Of late the rise in Islamic fundamentalism throughout Pakistan has created a viciously hostile environment, choking Hindus and other minorities of their basic rights to live in the land of their forefathers.
Hyderabad: The religious extremists show up to throw stones and beat peaceful protestors including children and women and the police arrests the peaceful progressive demonstrators of civil society demanding basic rights for women and Hindus as citizens of Pakistan. They are charging the civil society activists with blasphemy to terrorize them! Sindh is indeed suffering a brutal occupation that turns more tragic and farcical by the day. The following report of the rally to protests forced conversion and kidnapping of Hindu girls by an alliance of Sindhi civil society.
According to the reports, Sunni Tehreek’s extremists came with pick up’s loaded with Stones and attacked the peaceful Rally. Some of the injured were Girls & children. Police arrested civil society leaders Taj Marri, along with his Daughter Paras, renowned leftist intellectual, thinker, writer and activists Bakhshal Thalou and many other activists of civil society . Religious fundamentalists tried to put Hyderabad Press club on fire, and latter GOR Colony police Station was attacked by them. Several hundreds Students of Sindh University came to defend the civil society rally against the religious fundamentalism. Women Action Forum Leaders Arfana Mallah and Amar Sindhu who were in rally tried to dissuade the fanatics, but they insisted on registering charges of TOHEEN-E-RISALAT [blasphemy, a capital offense in Pakistan] against arrested leaders of Sindhi civil society.
According to some informed journalists a secret service agency is working on to create a rift between the People of Sindh and wants to start Hindu- Muslim riots and force the Sindhi Hindu’s to leave Sindh and to put Sindhis in minority in their own motherland. After the pressure of civil society, Women Action Forum’s leader Arfana Mallah and Taj Marri were freed from the lockup of GOR Colony Police Station, Hyderabad, Pakistan.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups 17 April 2012 + facebook
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More » BBC urdu
The recent spate of forced conversions, killings and abductions for ransom of non-Muslims living in Pakistan is an open question mark to the democratic governance and establishment of the country.
“Unless we protect and strengthen the weak, we will not be able to exercise the true power of democracy,” said Nazish Brohi, an independent research professional and a human rights activist.
Inaccessibility to appropriate health facilities, education and other essentials of life have transformed many Pakistanis into ‘weaker beings’, with non-Muslim factions topping the list. It is consequential to understand that protection of the suppressed and marginalised population of Pakistan indeed, is the only way to prove our stance towards a secular country.
In a country such as Pakistan, where male section of the society is predominantly overpowering, women generally face an ‘unequal’ share of hatred and discrimination.
A case of double jeopardy
Pakistani women are more susceptible to violence and other violations of human and civil rights however non-Muslim women are subjected to more discriminated behaviour on different stages and level which increase the magnitude of their ordeal.
“A vast population of Pakistani women suffer from effects of double jeopardy as they are discriminated because of multiple reasons,” said Brohi.
“Women in general are discriminated by men of their own families because they are considered to be carrying the responsibility of safeguarding their honour. Women are then subjected to discrimination because of the fact that they profess other faiths. And then the never-ending discrimination goes on,” added Brohi.
According to a report published by National commission for Justice and Peace, 74 per cent of minority women living in Pakistan faced sexual harassment during 2010 and 2011, respectively, whereas 43 per cent complained about facing religious discrimination at workplaces, educational institutions and neighbourhoods.
Moreover the report also proved that 68.4 per cent of non-Muslim women have no political participation which according to Brohi evidently signifies the mistrust of minority women in the political system primarily because it does not offer significant assistance to them.
With forced conversions and kidnappings for ransom on the rise, many non-Muslims have fled Pakistan to seek refuge abroad.
Mangla Sharma, Chairperson of Pak-Hindu Welfare association said, “forced conversions and blasphemy laws affect non-Muslims of Pakistan at every level. In fact it will not be unwise to say that legislation and laws are manipulated to favour the majority,”
The language of the program is Sindhi.
March 30, 2012 – SAPAC, Washington, DC: On 24th February, 2012 , a young Hindu girl named Rinkel Kumari was abducted from her home in a small village in Sindh, Pakistan. It was a full twelve hours before her family discovered where she was. Rinkel, aged 19, had been forced to change her religion to Islam and to marry a young man named Naveed Shah. Her parents immediately filled a first information report and brought her case before a civil judge. The court house was surrounded by thugs and supporters of the Pakistani Peoples’ Party Member of the National Assembly (PPP MNA) who was assisting Naveed. Under tremendous pressure, and obvious duress, Rinkel testified that she had married and converted to Islam of her own will. The judge released her into Naveed’s custody. Unsatisfied with the verdict, the Hindu community in Sindh rallied together to demand justice for Rinkel and other Hindu girls who had faced the same fate.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Hopes for the rapid resolution of a controversy over the conversion of a Hindu woman to Islam that has seized the Pakistani public were dashed on Monday, when the Supreme Court declined to decide the matter for at least three more weeks.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ruled that Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old Hindu student who converted under disputed circumstances last month, should spend the next three weeks pondering her fate in protective custody, along with another Hindu woman in a similar situation.
During an emotional and sometimes rowdy hearing in a packed courtroom in Islamabad, the capital, Chief Justice Chaudhry noted that there had been “serious allegations of abduction and forced conversion” in both cases.
“Both ladies must have an atmosphere without any pressure to make a decision about their future,” he said.
On the other side of the Thar, Hindus, especially girls, are forced into Islam
By Mariana Baabar
Hindus In Pakistan
Hindus constitute about 2.5 per cent, or 26 lakh, of Pakistan’s population.
Though sprinkled all over Pakistan, 95 per cent of Hindus are in Sindh.
Only Tharparkar district in Sindh has Hindus in majority: 51 per cent.
Other districts with sizeable population: Mirpur Khas (41 per cent), Sanghar (35 per cent), Umerkot (43 per cent)
Nearly 82 per cent of Pakistani Hindus are lower caste, most of them farm labourers
Cities with some Hindu population: Karachi, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
In Tharparkar, Hindus own land. Krishen Bheel, Gyan Chand and Ramesh Lal are the Hindus in the Pakistan National Assembly.
Let me confess at the outset: I’m travelling in rural Sindh to verify specifically the reported widespread menace of abduction of Hindu girls, their forcible conversion to Islam and betrothal to Muslim men. My first port of call is the district court of Mirpur Khas. I promptly mingle among the crowd waiting for the court’s decision on a kidnap-and-conversion case. Different voices narrate contradictory stories. I am befuddled for the moment.
Soon, a frisson of excitement sweeps through the throng, as a police van drives through the gate. Inside it is Mariam. She’s 13 years old—and married! Mariam was Mashu, and Hindu, till the night of December 22, 2005. I pick my way through the jostling crowd. Mariam is in a red burqa, her gold nose ring sparkles. She tells me, “I’m happy. I don’t want to return to my parents or brother.” What’s the fuss about, I wonder.
It’s quite another story under the pipal tree of the court compound. Huddled under it are the villagers of Jhaluree, 20 km from Mirpur Khas. Among them is Mashu’s father, Malo Sanafravo. He says that at 11 pm, December 22, four armed men barged into their room. One of them was Malo’s neighbour, Akbar. They picked up Mashu, bundled her into the waiting car. “She was taken to Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi’s village in Saamaaro tehsil.” There Mashu became Mariam and was married to Akbar.
Not true, insists husband Akbar. “Mariam has been always in my heart,” he gushes, saying, at 11 pm, December 22, it was she who had come over to his house. But it’s true that the Pir converted her and married them—it was his idea that they issue statements in the court. “Mariam was sent to Darul Aman in Hyderabad, in judicial custody,” Akbar declares.
A 13-year-old choosing to convert and marry? A 13-year-old testifying in the court, without her family by her side? Suspicious, I walk over to the SHO, caught in the middle of a heated exchange between two groups. Someone suggests he should allow the girl to meet her relatives. Before the conversion yes, not now. She has now become Muslim, says the SHO. He argues, “There’s a huge crowd here. If Mariam breaks down after seeing her father, there will be a communal riot here in the compound.”
A little later, there are celebrations as the word spreads: the court has allowed the couple to live together. Standing next to me is Kanjee Rano Bheel. He works for an NGO in the education sector; volunteers for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) as well. “In just two hours Mashu was converted and married,” Kanjee says incredulously.
Disappointment and helpless rage fleet across his face. “In Darul Aman the girls are kept away from parents and pressured into issuing statements favourable to the abductors. They tame stubborn girls through death threats.”
So, was Mashu abducted and forcibly converted?
In Mirpur Khas, truth resembles the mirage of the surrounding Thar desert, teasing and tormenting me as I drive from Karachi into interior Sindh. It tests your credulity, it challenges your journalistic skills. Wherever I go, and whoever I meet, in disconsolate voices the Hindus talk about ‘missing girls’; their stories resemble Mashu’s—the theme of abduction, conversion, often followed by marriage, is common to most narrations. The girls then appear in courts to issue statements declaring their conversion was voluntary. All links to the natal family and the community are severed; they are lost to the family forever. On January 4, 2005, Marvi, 18, and Hemi, 16, were kidnapped from Kunri village in Umerkot district; three months later, on March 3, 14-year-old Raji was abducted from Aslam Town Jhuddo, Mirpur Khas. The script in their cases was similar to Mashu’s. “Only 10 per cent of all conversions involving girls are voluntary; because of romance,” says Kanjee.
Ten per cent of what? No official figures are available. The DIG in Mirpur Khas, Saleemullah, says, “If there’s need I’ll collect these figures.
Saleemullah, perhaps, should tap the HRCP for statistics. Its director in Lahore, I.A. Rehman, is an honourable man. Rehman told Outlook that the HRCP has, between Jan 2000 to Dec 2005, documented 50 cases involving conversion of Hindu girls to Islam. Its investigations too endorse what I had found in interior Sindh. In many cases where it was claimed the girls had eloped with their Muslim partners, the HRCP found that most were, in fact, abducted, forcibly married to Muslim men or sold to them. There have been cases of Hindu girls, usually from economically better off families, eloping with their Muslim boyfriends. Rehman says in most cases such marriages didn’t last long. With links to their families cut off, the girls were subsequently forced to marry another Muslim or sucked into marriage rackets.
Nuzzhat Shirin, who works for the Lahore-based ngp Aurat Foundation, understands why the girls don’t reveal their plight at the time they are presented in court. “When a Hindu is forced to become Muslim, such a ruckus is made that if the young kidnapped girl appears in court, the fanatics yell, scream, throw rose petals in the air and follow the youth into the building so that she’s intimidated and can’t speak,” Shirin explains.
Social stigma arising from the loss of virginity, and the consequent difficulty of finding a groom, prompt these women to accept their misfortune—and hope for the best.
Fifty incidents in five years represents just a percentage of the total number of cases, says Kanjee, pointing out that a majority of such crimes go unreported. “There have been 50 such incidents last year,” insists Krishen Bheel, who is a Hindu member of the National Assembly (MNA), the Pakistani equivalent of the Lok Sabha. He begins to rattle out the cases he remembers: two months back Sapna was kidnapped and converted in upper Sindh; seven months earlier it was 17-year-old Lakshmi in Nawkot, and then…. “The trend is increasing,” he says. “If these conversions are voluntary, then how come boys rarely ever convert?”
Only once did the popular resentment against abduction spill out in the streets of Mirpur Khas. It was in the ’80s: a girl named Sita had been kidnapped. Some 70,000 Hindus turned up to protest the kidnapping. The police opened fire, killing several. “Sita was never returned,” Krishen laments. “She had even told Justice Dhorab Patel, who later joined the HRCP, that she had been forcibly converted. We have now stopped agitating.”
Instead, the Hindus take the support of civil rights groups and the media to publicise abduction cases, hoping public scrutiny would goad the state into action.
On Dec 30, the day after the Mariam case was disposed, the Supreme Court took cognisance of the complaint Qosheela’s parents from Ghotki, Sindh, had filed. They claimed their 13-year-old girl had been kidnapped, converted, given the name of Hajra and married to a Muslim man. The girl, as in most other cases, had said she had converted of her own free will. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, ordered the medical examination of the girl to determine whether she had attained puberty (Islam permits marriage at that age). Should it be proved otherwise, the husband could be tried for rape.
Even cities are not immune to the menace. Last year, Sammo Amra and Champa in Karachi received a letter from their three missing daughters—Reena (21), Reema (17) and Usha (19)—informing that they had converted to Islam and were ordained under the dictates of their new religion not to live with infidels, including their Hindu parents. The letter bore the address of Madrassa Taleemul Islam, Karachi. It prompted Supreme Court Bar Association president Malik Mohammad Qayyum to petition the Supreme Court in the first week of December. He accused the religious seminary’s administrator of using coercive methods to convert the three girls. On December 16, the court ordered the police to shift the girls to the Edhi Welfare Centre and provide protection to them until the time it was ascertained they had been indeed compelled to convert to Islam.
Sensitive Muslim citizens feel the way to counter the menace is to reinterpret and widen the scope of law.
Major (retd) Kamran Shafi, an absentee landlord from Sindh, cites the case of 17-year-old Kochlia, who was kidnapped and gangraped in Jacobabad, Sindh, in Sept 2005. Four men were arrested for the crime. They were subsequently released because Kochlia stated in the court she had converted and was married to one of them. Shafi asks, “Isn’t something very, very wrong here? Suppose the poor girl was forced into changing her religion and marrying one of the assailants so that they get off the hook? Can’t the state prosecute the four on its own, for their original crime of rape?”
The three Hindu MNAs—Krishen Bheel, Gyan Chand and Ramesh Lal—raised the Kochlia case in the National Assembly. They claimed Kochlia’s statement was not tenable as under the local Hindu custom and law a girl can’t marry of her own will until the age of 20. Since Kochlia is a minor, her abductors should be tried for rape. Such an interpretation of existing laws could provide ample relief to Hindus.
Till then, though, the fear of kidnap stalks the Hindus of Pakistan. Krishen Bheel says Hindu girls are scared to go out; he has enrolled his own children into a Christian school. He points to Mirpur Khas’ strange predicament: there’s freedom to worship, there are 10 temples which bustle through the day with devotees; and yet Hindu girls here are kidnapped and converted—and the community humiliated.
Perhaps these abductions are part of the general scenario of crime against women in rural Pakistan (see box). Perhaps they are converted and married to criminals to enable the latter to escape the dragnet of the law. Yet, such arguments don’t comfort the Hindus. Sat Ram, of Shadi Bali village near Mirpur Khas, says Hindu girls are deprived of education because their parents are apprehensive of sending them to schools located at a distance. “They receive education only till the primary level. It isn’t safe to send them to school after that.”
But the plight of Hindu women can’t be seen just through the prism of gender discrimination rampant in rural Sindh. Reena Gul, of Sattar Nagar village, Mirpur Khas, says the boys too are converted but their numbers are very few. The community here feels it is the Islamist’s agenda to drive out non-Muslims from Pakistan. In fact, Krishen told the National Assembly that even Hindu businessmen are being kidnapped in Sindh for ransom. He said on the floor of the House, “Several religious parties are reportedly behind the move to convince the people that it is their responsibility to get rid of infidels from Pakistan, (that) taking ransom from non-Muslims is not a sin.”
I now set out to meet Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi, whose name surfaces repeatedly in conversion stories. The drive from Mirpur Khas to Sarhandi village, Somarho tehsil, is through a picturesque landscape. Peacocks dance in the field and gypsies pitch their tents for the night. Even the Pir appears tranquil, his white flowing beard and winsome disposition camouflaging his mission.
Yet, when he begins to talk, he conceals nothing. Yes, the Pir declares, he has been converting the Hindus for the last 30 years. Perhaps his claims of converting a 1,000 families a year is a boast. “There’s a surah in the Quran which speaks specifically about conversion, especially about conversion of women,” he says to justify his mission. “Recently, three Hindu girls were brought to me. I named them Benazir, Sanam and Nusrat,” he reveals, with the righteous air of someone who had bestowed a favour. “These Hindu women are mistreated by their husbands who do nothing but watch TV.”
The Pir rubbishes the allegation that he converts abducted Hindu girls. The unwilling are sent back. Yet, he adds in the same breath, “In many cases Hindu girls are kidnapped and kept as keeps. But these keeps are not converted. But believe me, they are very happy.”
I express the desire to meet the women whom he had converted and found sanctuary with him. The Pir agrees, even allows us to photograph them, contrary to the local tradition. Into the room, the women walk. Rehana, 50, was earlier Nabee; she converted three years ago, after the death of her husband. “I had no one to turn to. If we do not convert we would not be helped by this family.” It was the same reason for 35-year-old Mariam, who came here seven years back. “Under the Pir’s protection, I earn at least Rs 200 a month.” Ruksana was earlier Chotee, and hails from Umerkot. Extreme poverty and a drug-addict husband persuaded her to take the extreme step. “I brought my four kids as well,” she declares.
As I talk to these women, I realise most of them are widows or wallowing in poverty. I mention this to the Pir. He says, “The government is responsible for all Hindus and non-Hindus. When the government doesn’t help them, they come to us.”
Forced or economically enticed, the Hindu converts do not symbolise Islam’s appeal. Rather they represent the state’s failure to provide succour to the poor and protect their religious rights. Perhaps it’s also symptomatic of the sickness afflicting the Pakistani state. As they say, the condition of the minorities is an indicator of a nation’s health.
Via – Twitter
“Kill me here in court, but don’t send me to Darul-Aman” The words of Rinkal Kumari: “Everyone in Pakistan is hand in glove, there is justice only for Muslims, there is no justice for Hindus. Kill me here in court, but don’t send me to Darul-Aman, all these people are hand in glove, they will kill us”.
Even after repeated pleas by Rinkal Kumari & her parents, the court didn’t allow her to go with her parents. Instead the court sent her to shelter home in Karachi where she said that she faces threat to her life. What kind of justice is this?
Who will be responsible now if something happens to her? I think the Chief Justice & the other two members of the bench should be held directly responsible if something happens to her. A direct FIR should be registered against them in case something happens to Rinkal Kumari.
After Rinkal Kumari’s statement in the Supreme Court today & her cries to go with her parents, it is established beyond any doubt that she is separated from her family against her will & that she had been kidnapped & forcibly converted to Islam. Now it is the duty of the govt & the Supreme Court to immediately order the arrest of kidnapper Naveed Shah, his accomplices, MNA Mian Mithoo, Mithoo’s family members & armed men who harassed a Sindhi Hindu girl.
Shame on those Sindhis & Pakistanis who still support Mian Mithoo brand of forced conversion to Islam of non-Muslim girls.
The Supreme Court should immediately order a complete inquiry in the case & punish all the culprits.
Courtesy: Aziz Narejo’s facebook wall.
Also see this article from a few days ago..and don’t miss this video celebrating Rinke Kumari’s conversion (reversion?) to Islam, complete with poetry by Allama Iqbal Jihadi. Click here
By Hasan Mujtaba (btw, notice that communists and socialists in both India and Pakistan have been more consistent than most in fighting such evils, sometimes at great personal risk)
( I wrote this story about forced conversion of Hindu women in Pakistan of 1994. So far forced conversion of Hindu women nothing has been changed. Even the modus operandi of forced conversions and its operaters remain as the same)…… …… ……… …….
On January 19, a Hindu girl named Daya Bai disappeared from her house in Daharki, district Ghotki (Sindh, Pakistan). She surfaced ten days later outside the deputy commissioner’s office, wearing bridal clothes,and accompanied by several hundred strong gathering (MANY OF WHOM WERE ARMED WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS) led by pirs of Bharchundi chanting Allaho – Akbar. During the nikah (wedding) that followed, Daya Bai’s mother wept inconsolably, repeatedly striking her head on the floor in anguish,”let me meet my daughter even if she is getting married’ she implored but her pleas fell on deaf ears.
For the Hindu community in Sukkur and Larkano, Daya Bai’s disappearance, conversion to Islam and subsequent marriage with a Muslim in suspicious circumstances is not unpresedented occurance. Between January and February at least 3 Hindu girls, Daya Bai from Daharki, Shakuntala from Pano Aquil, and Bhagawanti, the daughter of a Larkano professor were allegedly kidnapped from from their homes at the gunpoint. Of the three, Daya Bai and Bahgawanti converted to Islam and married muslim men whereas Shakunatala’s whereabouts are not known. Shakuntala, allegedly kidnapped from her home by a man named Kalhoro, she embraced Islam and married to someone other than her abductor. Speculation abounds that she may have been sold. The story of the daughter of Koro Mal, Hindu trader from Larkana, is similar. THERE ARE SEVERAL SUCH INSTANCES IN WHICH GIRLS BELIEVED TO HAVE ELOPED WITH THEIR MUSLIM LOVERS ARE NOT MARRIED TO THEM BUT WERE EITHER MARRIED OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE OR KILLED.
The increasing incidents of forcible conversions and marriages of Hindu girls have compelled some Hindus to migrate to India to protect their daughters and family honor. ‘The parents of girls who have met this fate are like the living dead’ says Ghanshyam Das a social worker in Kashmore.
Similarly, as Mukhi Nihalchand, a Hindu community leader in Rohri points out forcible conversion of Hindu men continues unreported and unabated. The conversion at Bharchundi of a Hindu boy from a wealthy Umerkot family sometime back is a case in point. After a while, the boy reconverted to Hinduism and migrated to India with his family.
By DECLAN WALSH
GHOTKI, Pakistan — Banditry is an old scourge in this impoverished district of southern Pakistan, on the plains between the mighty river Indus and a sprawling desert, where roving gangs rob and kidnap with abandon. Lately, though, local passions have stirred with allegations of an unusual theft: that of a young woman’s heart.
In the predawn darkness on Feb. 24, Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old student from a Hindu family, disappeared from her home in Mirpur Mathelo, a small village off a busy highway in Sindh Province. Hours later, she resurfaced 12 miles away, at the home of a prominent Muslim cleric who phoned her parents with news that distressed them: Their daughter wished to convert to Islam, he said.
Their protests were futile. By sunset, Ms. Kumari had become a Muslim, married a young Muslim man, and changed her name to Faryal Bibi.
Over the past month, this conversion has generated an acrid controversy that has reverberated far beyond its origins in small-town Pakistan, whipping up a news media frenzy that has traced ugly sectarian divisions and renewed a wider debate about the protection of vulnerable minorities in a country that has so often failed them.
At its heart, though, it is a head-on clash of narratives and motives.
Hindu leaders insist that Ms. Kumari was abducted at gunpoint and forced to abandon her religion. ….
Read more » The New York Times
By Beena Sarwar
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered Rinkal Kumari and Dr Lata Kumari to be sent back to Karachi shelter home for 3 weeks to give them time to “think”. Would he have done that if they had given statements in favour of their kidnappers?
Here is the account from a family friend of Rinkal’s” “When Rinkal came into court, without letting her meet her parents/mother, she (Rinkal) was brought to give statement in front of CJP, she only stated that she doesn’t want to go anywhere, BUT her mother. Then CJP met with Rinkal alone for about 20 minutes, and then let her mother meet her for only 10 minutes. Afterwards Rinkal was crying before CJP, she wanted to go to her parents. CJP said, girl wants to go with her parents but there is confusion as the girl had embraced ISLAM and had spent married life, so how can she turn around from her previous statement? Therefore, he ordered Rinkal to be sent to shelter home for more 3 weeks to think, along with Dr. Lata, who was sent to Shelter home on same grounds. Is this justice?? Chief justice should have backed innocent girls, supported them and should have ordered immense and appropriate action against Mullah and involved culprits, BUT after all he is a Muslim as well, he has intentions to book a plot in heaven as well…”
Rinkal Kumari said in court:..” Pakistan mein sab log ek doosre ke saath mile huwe hain, yahan insaaaf sirf muslaman ke lye hai, Hindu ke lye koi insaaf nahee hai, mujhe yaheen court room mein maar daalo, lekin Dar-ul-aman nahee bhejo, yeh sab log mile huwe hain yeh humein maar daalen ge“. Translation: (Everyone in Pakistan is hand in glove, there is justice only for Muslims, there is no justice for Hindus. Kill me here in court, but don’t send me to Darul-Aman, all these people are hand in glove, they will kill us) – KTN news channel live reporting captured on a personal camera – the reporter repeats Rinkals words quote-un-quote.
Courtesy: Adopted from Beena Sarwar’s facebook page
By Qaiser Butt
ISLAMABAD: The minister for national harmony has alleged that about 100 non-Muslims, mostly Hindus girls, were forced to convert to Islam in recent months. The minister, Akram Masih Gill, told The Express Tribune that stronger legislation was required to protect minorities from forced conversions. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
By Chidanand Rajghatta
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s state-endorsed discrimination, and in some cases extermination, of its minorities has finally caught the eye of Washington lawmakers. Coming on the heels of support in Congress for a Baloch homeland in the face of Islamabad’s depredations in the region, a US Congressman has zeroed in on the abduction and forced religious conversion of Hindus in the country highlighted by the case of Rinkel Kumari.
In a sharply-worded letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Congressman Brad Sherman urged him to take action to ensure the return of Rinkel Kumari to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker. In a case that has been widely reported in the liberal Pakistani media, Rinkel, who was abducted on February 24, was forced to marry one Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.
She was subsequently produced before a civil judge twice, but she was reportedly coerced into claiming that she had converted on her own will, even as her family was denied access to her in kangaroo court proceedings that revealed in video clips to be led by a frenzied mob of zealots, including armed followers of the Pakistani lawmaker. According to Pakistani civil liberties activists in Washington DC, Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.
”Rinkel Kumari’s case is just one case of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan,” Congressman Sherman said in the letter to Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month. ”I urge you to take all necessary steps to bring an end to this practice and other harassment of Hindus in Pakistan.”
The Rinkel Kumari case was brought to the attention of US lawmakers not by Hindu activists but by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC), a lobby group that, like the Baloch groups, is increasingly asserting the secular and syncretic identity of Pakistan’s Sindhi community in the face of growing Islamization in the country. Sapac activists are telling US lawmakers that state sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant and is causing Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan in droves.
Hindus, who constituted more than 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population soon after Partition, have now dwindled to less than two per cent, mostly in some districts of Sindh. There have been several reports in recent months of Hindu families seeking to migrate to India in the face of growing radical Islamization of Pakistan, including abduction and forcible conversions, but it is the first time that Washington, which literally slept over Pakistan’s genocide of Bengalis in 1970-71, is paying attention to the issue.
US interest in the Rinkel Kumari case comes close on the heels of sudden support in Congress for Baloch self-determination, an effort led by California lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher. That effort has rattled Islamabad to the extent that it has told American interlocutors that Pakistan-US ties will be deeply affected if Washington interfered in Balochistan, even though the Obama administration has clarified that support for an independent Balochistan is confined to the Hill, where lawmakers are free to introduce any legislation they deem appropriate. That in turn resulted in Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.,, writing to House Speaker John Boehner, expressing deep concern over Congressional action on Balochistan.
KARACHI – Lata Kumar, a medical student on her way to college, was kidnapped earlier this week by unidentified persons from a busy Karachi street in the upmarket Defence Housing Area. In February in a similar incident, Rinkle Kumari was abducted in Mirpur Mathelo, a small town in rural Sindh. Both women, Hindus by faith, are feared to have been converted to Islam and married off.
The rise in the number of reports of Hindu girls being kidnapped or made to convert to Islam has sparked concern from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
At the launch of its report on minorities in Pakistan titled ‘Perils of Faith’ earlier this month,the HRCP’s Amarnath Motumal said minor girls and married women are kidnapped and then converted to Islam.
“They kidnap girls who are younger than 15 but they say they are adults and that the girls have accepted Islam and been married of their own free will,” he said. He also pointed out that no one is supporting the Hindu community on the issue. “We are Pakistanis first, and then Hindu. We earn enough and have food to eat but this conversion issue is not acceptable, it has discouraged Hindus in Pakistan.”
HRCP chief Zohra Yusuf noted that the “situation of religious minorities in Pakistan has grown worse over the last year. The government has not taken steps which could improve the status of minorities.”
“Minorities are not considered equal citizens in Pakistan. Some incidents that happened in 2011 have increased their vulnerability”, she said, citing the assassinations of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and former federal minister for minorities affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti.
In front of the Karachi Press Club on Sunday, members of the minority communities, including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs protested. “Give us our Rinkle back. Give us the daughter of Sindh back,” demanded the relatives of the 17-year-old girl.
London, UK and Garden Grove, CA: Overseas Sindhis including USA-based Sindhi Association of North America and UK/USA based World Sindhi Congress (WSC) condemn the kidnapping and as that is what she said in open court; forced conversion to Islam of a Hindu teenage girl, Rinkal Kumari. Ms. Kumari kidnapped from Mirpur Mathelo and held in custody of local PPP MNA. When the local community protested, Ms. Kumari was brought to a court but members of the Hindu community were not permitted to enter the public court session. She stated to the court that she wants to go home. But the judge forced her to remain in the custody of her kidnappers.
March 8, 2012 – Washington, DC – The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) was recently informed about the urgent and alarming case of a Hindu girl, Rinkel Kumari, who was abducted by Muslim fanatics from her home in Mirpur Mathelo and forced to convert her religion to Islam. We are in the process of arranging appointments with members of Congress and their staff to discuss Rinkel’s case as well as the plight of minorities in Pakistan. We would like to invite you to join us as we meet with members of Congress.
Sadly, Rinkel Kumari’s is one of many cases of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan. We have gathered some information about Rinkel’s case and the situation of Hindus in Pakistan below:
· Rinkel Kumari was forcibly abducted from her home in the early hours of February 24, 2012 by Naveed Shah who was accompanied by three other armed men.
· Rinkel was held in custody by Mian Mohammad Aslam, the son of Pakistan Peoples’ Party MNA Miya Mithoo in Bharchundi Shareef where she was forced to marry Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.
· On the morning of February 24, Daya Ram, Rinkel’s uncle registered an FIR against Naveed Shah.
· On February 25, Rinkel’s case was brought before a Ghotki civil judge. Rinkel testified that she had been kidnapped and forced to change her religion against her will. However, the judge ruled in favor of Naveed Shah and Rinkel was taken into police custody for two days at Sukkur police station.
· Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.
· On February 27, Rinkel appeared in court again. This time, her relatives were not allowed inside the court. Additionally, there were armed followers of the MNA surrounding the court.
· During this second hearing, Rinkel was under pressure and changed her statement in favor of Naveed Shah. She was given into his custody. Rinkel’s family is not aware of the whereabouts of their daughter.
· On March 2, the Hindu community protested in front of the Press Club against the abductions and forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam. The family of Rinkel also participated in the protest.
· Hindus are a minority group in Pakistan, making up approximately 2% of the population.
· According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), around 20 to 25 forced kidnappings and conversions of Hindu girls take place every month in Sindh.
· The Hindu American Foundation states that “many Hindus in Pakistan are compelled to pay regular sums, as a type of ransom, to extortionists and local leaders in exchange for the physical security of their families and themselves.”
· As a result of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws, minority groups in Pakistan are not free to express their own religions and ideologies without fear of persecution.
· State sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant. This state sponsored discrimination has caused several Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan. In March 2011, Hindu politician in Pakistan Jaipal Chabria, said that “every month a Hindu family leaves for neighboring India. Insecurity, killings, kidnappings and forcible conversion of women to Islam are the major causes.”
We humbly request that you contact us to join us in presenting Rinkel’s case to members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to participate. We hope to work together to bring justice to Rinkel and her family and to bring an end to state sponsored discrimination in Pakistan.
To read more » BBC urdu
The Executive council of Sindhi Association of North America Canada Chapter has condemned in strongest terms the kidnapping of a Sindhi Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari and her forced conversion to Islam under coercive conditions in Mirpur Mathelo, Sindh, Pakistan.
Sana Canada chapter is of the view that it is well planned act of aggression and intimidation against peace loving Hindus of Sindh to scare them and make them feel un-secure in their own motherland and force them to leave the land of their birth by the religious extremist groups with the help of existing PPP government.
Sana Canada chapter believes that it is a well thought strategy of religious extremist groups on the behest of government in Pakistan to torn a part the fabric of tolerant Sindhi society and promote hatred and break the unity of Sindhis as a nation on religious grounds.
Sana Canada appeals the Prime Minister of Canada, Human rights commission of Canada to help stop these acts of aggressions against Hindus in Sindh and other religious minorities in Pakistan.
Sana Canada also appeals Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motto action in the case of Rinkle Kumari and provide her coercion free environment to decide her future and establish a mechanism where all such kind of kidnappings and forced conversions can be decided by courts in a coercion free environment in the presence and satisfaction of human rights commission of Pakistan.
Sana Canada, Chapter
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For more details » Save Daughter of Sindh → RINKAL KUMARI
London (Press release) – World Sindhi Congress (WSC) alongside the entire Sindhi nation is deeply shocked, saddened and mourns the barbaric and inhuman murder of three young Sindhi Hindu doctors in the town of Chakk, district Shikarpuron 7th November. Dr Ashok, Dr Naresh and Dr Ajeet were gunned down and Dr Satia Paul was critically wounded when people of Bhaya tribe opened fire on them while they were working in their clinic in their native town Chakk.
The initial reports suggest that these doctors along with other Sindhi communities were taking a stand against the harassment and potential abduction and forcible conversion of Sindhi Hindu girls in Chakk. The menace of abduction, rape and forcible conversion of religious minority community girls, particularly from poor Sindhi Hindu communities in Sindh have increased exponentially in last couple of years in the atmosphere of rising religious extremism and intolerance. Scores of such events remain completely unreported because of fear of persecution by the powerful perpetrators and religious zealots. The state apparatus and those responsible for providing the security are widely seen as companion culprits in these crimes.
WSC believes that it is a systematic policy of the establishment since its inception to create an atmosphere of fear, persecution and insecurity to force Sindhi Hindus to migrate. This is in part a strategy to convert Sindhis in minority and to devoid Sindh of professional and middle class in order to suffocate its societal progress. Resulting from the fears and insecurities the Sindhi Hindus have been continuously migrating from their motherland the process has only significantly sped up in recent years.
WSC views this gruesome event as a conspiracy to send a deep and wide-ranging wave of terror among already frightened Sindhi Hindus to migrate. The perpetrators include the shameless sardar of Bhaya tribe, local police, civil administration and agencies. The criminals have attacked the secular fabric of Sindhi society, but they will fail as the entire Sindhi nation mourns the death of these three martyrs. WSC strongly demands that the culprits particularly those behind the atrocities should be brought to justice.
WSC at this saddest moment in their lives, send its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have been taken away by the evil forces of darkness. We know that nothing can lessen the pain of this loss, but let we reiterate that WSC and the entire Sindhi nation share their pain, sadness and grief, not only them but the entire secular Sindhi nation is grieving.
WSC is in contact with the UN Human Rights Council and other international human rights organisations requesting them to press upon the Pakistani government in order to investigate and stop systematically on going gross violations of human rights of religious minorities.
KARACHI, SINDH – The Pakistan Coalition for Religious Minorities (PCRM) will launch a protest campaign against Sindh Minority Affairs Minister Dr Mohan Lal Kohistani for “not taking any interest in the increasing kidnapping of Hindus throughout the province”.
The PCRM – a newly established representative body of Pakistani Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmedis and other religious minorities of the country – termed these incidents as a conspiracy against religious minorities and expressed disappointment over the ministry’s silence even after 48 cases of kidnapping for ransom, murders, forced conversion in the last six months alone.