By Riaz Sohail
A court in Pakistan has ordered police to find a Hindu woman who was allegedly abducted and forced to marry her Muslim husband.
In a petition before the Sindh High Court, the family of Rinkle Kumari say that her abduction was supported by a powerful politician.
But her husband’s friends say that she voluntarily left home in Sindh province and willingly converted to Islam.
Judges at the court said that Ms Kumari must be produced before them next week.
Human rights activists say that other reported abductions of members of minority communities in Pakistan, which is overwhelmingly Muslim, have not been properly investigated by the authorities.
In the most recent case, Hindu community leaders say that an oath Ms Kumari made in front of a court in her home town that she had freely got married and converted to Islam was made under duress.
They say that many others like her have been forcibly taken away by powerful politicians – some allied to the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The Hindu community has accused one of the party’s MPs, Mian Abdul Haq, of supporting the abduction and the forced conversion.
But in an interview with the BBC he strenuously denied the allegations.
“I contacted her family when Rinkle came to me last month,” he said.
“But they refused to respond – and then I was left with no choice but to convert her to Islam and get her married [according to] her will.”
Ms Kumari’s family say that she was kidnapped from her home on 24 February by Naveed Shah – who later married her.
They say that they have registered a police complaint against Mr Shah even though he appeared in court on 25 February with Ms Kumari, who made a statement before the magistrate that she had married him of her own free will.
The family and community leaders, however, say that the magistrate was under “a great deal of pressure” because hundreds of armed tribesmen loyal to Mr Haq were in the court premises.
Mr Haq said that his supporters would abide by the court ruling and that Ms Kumari would appear in court on 12 March.