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.