Family ties: The curious case of Bharti/Ayesha

Published: January 1, 2012

Ayesha spend her time adjusting a black abaya and barely looking at her parents when she saw them in court on Saturday. Photo: FurSid/FILE

KARACHI: 

Until recently, Bharti lived in her parents’ house and visited the local temple. Today, as Ayesha, she spends her time adjusting a black abaya and barely looked at her parents when she saw them in court on Saturday.

The girl with a new identity and religion was in court for the hearing of a case her family has filed, alleging the abduction and forceful conversion and marriage of their daughter to a Muslim man. The family filed the FIR 365-B at the Baghdadi police station.

“She is being pressurised to say that she converted because of her own free will – else we would be harmed,” cried her father, Narain Das.  Her mother, a cardiac patient, was upset that Ayesha did not even glance at her. “She is my only daughter. She does not want to meet me or talk to me. I gave birth to her and raised her.”

Her case is the eighteenth in a series of forced conversions and marriages that have taken place in Lyari. Underage girls are threatened if they refuse to accept the conversion.

Narain Das brought a copy of the National Database and Registration Authority record which states that his daughter is 15 years old. But certificates of her conversion to Islam and her marriage claim she is 18.

“The marriage documents have tampered with her age. She is not of the age to get married,” said Das.

His new son-in-law Abid was handcuffed and chewed gutka as he stood in the court. Das’ family has accused him of kidnapping Bharti/Ayesha, while the girl’s relatives allege that Abid is a ‘wanted man’ in the area. “He uses drugs and has eyes for every girl. Our girl is just being fooled by him.”

Das isn’t opposed to his daughter converting to Islam. His son also converted and lives at home.  “My son converted to Islam and lives with us. I have no issues with him. I have no issues with the girl either.”

“She should not be forced into converting,” Das states.

Amarnath Motumal, the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was representing the Das family. This isn’t new for him – he has seen many girls forcefully converted and never returning home again.

“Her statement will be recorded on Monday. Let’s see what the court decides. Maybe it will be the last time her family will see her,” he said.

Before she headed to court, Ayesha said her marriage and conversion was a spontaneous decision. “I liked Abid a lot. I went to the market to meet him, and we decided then and there to run away.”

Her father-in-law Mohammad Anwar, a constable at the Preedy police station, did not leave her side for a minute. He twitched his moustache and flashed a big smile. “It is such a blessing for us, that a Hindu has embraced Islam. She always wanted to be a Muslim and has knowledge about Islam.” Ayesha told The Express Tribune that she only knows the Kalima.

The Das family fears that if the court releases Ayesha to Abid’s family, she will be sold or murdered. “We want a guarantee that we will be allowed to meet her and that she will be in safe hands. Another frustrated relative said, “We are all heartbroken. If we don’t get justice, we will all migrate from here.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Giri
    Jan 1, 2012 - 8:03AM

    How would they stop converted people from abusing the religion while praying? That’s what it is worth.

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  • Outerspace
    Jan 1, 2012 - 8:13AM

    Come to india

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  • Siddique Malik
    Jan 1, 2012 - 9:01AM

    Is there any body in Pakistan capable of helping this brainwahsed girl of tender age and her heart-broken parents and relatives? Why can she not meet her parents? What religion requires such behavior toward parents? Is the Chief Justice too busy playing politics to help an innocent girl and her parents?
    Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

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  • Observer
    Jan 1, 2012 - 10:34AM

    There is no future for Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. Their only hope is to migrate to India. Sad, but it it the truth.

    The same holds for Ahmedis, Christians and other religious minorities. They have no future in Pakistan unless they convert.

    Pakistan had about 30% minorities soon after the partition. It now stands at less than 5%. Not a good sign for equality, secularism and tolerance. Unfortunately, it looks like things are only going to get worse.

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  • imran aziz
    Jan 1, 2012 - 10:57AM

    what would happen if a muslim converted to hinduism or chirstianity? Will they have the same positive response from the pakistani society that people who convert into islam receive from muslims??

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  • Feroz
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:06AM

    The seeds sown now will produce appropriate Fruits at Harvest time.
    A Nation without a conscience or Soul cannot survive.

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  • MUNIB
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:22AM

    If this is how Molviz are spreading Islam in 21st century, you can easily guess how the Ghaznavi, ghauri and Alamgir might have spread it centuries back .

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  • Vigilant
    Jan 1, 2012 - 11:51AM

    This is how we are establishing Jinnah’s Pakistan……Pathetic

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  • Straight_Talk
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:29PM

    This is a very common crime in southasia. It has been happening for centuries now. The motive may not be particularly religious as has been stated. The motive is very similar to the once prevalent Sati system among hindus. The excuse here is religious but the real motive can be financial or revenge or lust or a combination of two or more of these.
    The main question should be asked to the state of Pakistan and its treatment of minorities ( specially hindus and sikhs ). The commonly found muslim mindset wherein they consider it to be their religious duty to get non-muslims ( specially young unmarried girls ) converted to Islam is not helping the matter much.

    Muslims must think seriously about such blatant injustice in the name of Islam before it is too late ? As a so-called ” Kafir ” like me sees this, it is already quite late by now.

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  • human being
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:30PM

    i have tear when hear this story.Recommend

  • RajX
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:39PM

    Disgusting! I don’t have anything else to say.

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  • Onlooker
    Jan 1, 2012 - 1:52PM

    Is there any Pakistani Hindu guy in Pakistan who has married a Muslim girl without converting into Islam?Recommend

  • DS
    Jan 1, 2012 - 2:26PM

    @Outerspace: True , there is no other choice. Come out of hell called pakistanRecommend

  • shameless
    Jan 1, 2012 - 3:04PM

    look at this, how cruely they are torturing and killing non-muslims in pakistan, and the same are criticising other’s minor issues, without sense.Recommend

  • Srinivasa Iyengar K. S.
    Jan 1, 2012 - 10:09PM

    Very sad. They say Islam is a relegion of peace ! If this is true how can such cruel things be done by the followers of Islam ? I think such people mindlessly bring disrepute to Islam. People comment that ALLAH IS GOOD, BUT THE MULLAH IS BAD. Whatever it may be just imagine the torture to the parents…and to the helpless Hindu Society in Pakistan. Let alone relegion, will ordinary human decency permit this.? Enlightened muslims in Pakistan should go to protect the helpless Hindus. But will they ?Recommend

  • sara
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:02AM

    its just illeteracy n nothing else and ppl give it name, as for the sake of religion. its not acceptable in Islam, these illeterate ppl making Islam’s image worse among other religions.

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  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan
    Jan 2, 2012 - 3:50PM

    How can a minor consent to a marriage anyways. We have crimes against minors too but bringing two great religions into a confrontation mode is sad. A constable bragging about it is worse. Anyways, in a few decades there will be no such group such as “minorities” left in Pakistan. I guess, it would be “sects against sects” then. It was a shocking to read this article. Peace, ssa, everyone.

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  • a k g
    Jan 2, 2012 - 6:54PM

    some people act on their own contrary to the teachings of religion with their own interpretation.mature age ,expressed willful consent is necessary.also it is the responsibility of state to protect minorties .what state has done in cases of force ful conversions is evident from its past record.one should not expect anything new except some reassuarances.

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  • Giri
    Jan 2, 2012 - 9:22PM

    “Her father-in-law Mohammad Anwar, a constable at the Preedy police station, did not leave her side for a minute”

    That shows she was scared to death.

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  • Bijoy
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:42PM

    What is proof that Ayesha has been forcibly converted?
    When anyone converts to a religion (mainly Islam), many people (falsely) say that she/he has been converted forcibly.
    Now,
    Listen to that girl, what she says.
    She says that she has converted to Islam for her own will. Now, it is against human right to say she has been forcibly converted.

    What everyone needs is only to listen to the words of that girl.
    She has her right to convert to any religion, if the constitution allow her.
    It is a non-sense case.

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  • GAM
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:56PM

    @Bijoy:
    The girl is just 15 years old; the family has provided documentary evidence to that effect. How much maturity does a girl at that age have to understand religion and convert? If you have a 15 year old daughter, you would know. Look at the background of the guy who kidnapped her – do you think he has the credentials for a girl to fall in love with him?

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  • Siddique Malik
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:33PM

    @GAM:
    You raised excellent counter-points in response to Bijoy. I would like to add by asking: why would a 15-year old girl suddenly stop talking to her parents? Even if she doesn’t want to see them, her so-called “husband” and “in-laws” should convince her to see her parents and respect them. The Quran asks Muslims to be kind and respectful to their parents and even not talk to them in a loud voice. But the “in-laws” are letting her make her parents weep day and night. Clearly, she has been kidnapped, and these “in-laws” are a bunch of hooligans. The sad thing is that extremists talk about the constitution when they want to exploit it to abuse others, but forget about the constitution when it’s time to respect others’ rights, especially the rights of non-Muslims. As her parents have said, the issue is not whether she has converted to Islam; the issue is that without an explanation, she has stopped communicating with her parents.
    Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

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  • Bijoy
    Jan 3, 2012 - 11:08PM

    Totally strange your words are !

    How can you believe anything without proof? What is your proof that ABID is a villain? Without prooving, only by one’s word, you can not say anyone guilty.

    By the way, I am a 16-year-old boy.
    And you may examine me about many religions. Those, who have sharp brain, can understand many things which even 50-year-old experienced human can’t understand. Age is never a factor.
    60% of Pakistan’s women are married before their 18 years of age.
    So, what’s about them?

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  • Siddique Malik
    Jan 4, 2012 - 2:38AM

    @Bijoy:
    Dear young man, obviously, that girl is not as smart as you. If you were to convert to another religion, would you break all ties with your parents? Obviously, she is either stupid or is under pressure to act the way she is acting. If former is the case, then it’s the duty of her so-called “in-laws” to convince her to see her parents, because fairness demands it. Those who gave her birth and raised her must not be shunned. Living parents are God’s gift. No one should be allowed to treat his/her parents the way she is treating her parents. Either she is doing this on her own or is being forced to do it. Either way, the duty of her “in-laws” to ensure that she meets her parents is not diminished.
    Siddique Malik,Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

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  • Bijoy
    Jan 4, 2012 - 6:59AM

    Hello !
    Passion has no place in law.
    Logic is also powerless against laws.
    Law demands only proof. And law is the supreme matter which can never be defeated by passion and logic.
    Why does Ayesha not want to talk “in a loud-voice” with her parents?
    Because, her parents are trying to trap her husband.
    If age be a factor, tell Pakistan to arrest 60% women and their husbands and guardians, because, those women were married under 18 years old.

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  • Siddique Malik
    Jan 4, 2012 - 6:46PM

    @Bijoy:
    Do you need a law to respect your parents? Did you say that logic is powerless against laws? Laws, my dear, are or at least should be based on nothing but logic, and it’s only through logic that society can invoke laws for its welfare. For someone who claims to be a smart person, you contradict yourself: On one hand, you talk about proof, and on the other, you issue a statement that her parents are trying to trap her “husband.” What proof do you have? I don’t know the source of your statistic of 60% women above, but for the argument sake, let’s assume it’s correct. How are these women relevant to this discussion? Why should they be arrested? Who is saying the girl in question should be arrested? All I am saying is that she should respect her parents and if her so-called in-laws cannot convince her of discharging that basic duty toward propriety, their tall claim of being “thakedars” of Islam is hollow like a dhoal (drum). But you never answered my question, so let me repeat: If you were to change your religion, would you break all links with your parents? If so, why?
    Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

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  • Bijoy
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:40PM

    I meant, one can’t defend laws by logic and without proof.
    Logic says that, a father can’t kill his 2 infant children (Yesterday, it happened in Bangladesh). But, in reality, he killed and it was proven.
    Here, logic is powerless.

    I meant, logic is powerless against defending any law without proof. I did not mean logic is powerless to create law. May be, as my mother-tongue is not English, I could not mean properly what I actually wanted to say.

    Mayn’t it be Ayesha’s parents who are avoiding Ayesha?

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  • Bijoy
    Jan 4, 2012 - 7:51PM

    I told for possibility, and you told as you had proof.
    Go to Pakistan and you’ll find 3 under-18 married girls among 5. No Pakistani will seek proof. And statistics have never any proof. Though, statistics are usually considered okay by majority.

    I told you about a probable reason for the so-called “Ayesha’s not talking with her parents” that, it is not impossible for a wife to avoid her parents for trapping her husband.

    I have seen many Muslims and non-Muslims, who love spouse more than parents.

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  • Siddique Malik
    Jan 4, 2012 - 8:12PM

    @Bijoy:
    You are confused, “young man.” Logic trumps proof. At times, logic quashes the need to look at proof. If a man kills his children, the logic will point to his having gone insane or depressed or frustrated, and then proof of either one of these occurrences could be sought. Logic can resolve a lot of things, except stubbornness. You keep jumping from one point to another, but so far have not answered any of my specific questions, because you have neither the logic nor the proof to answer them. Unless you answer my specific questions, this will me my last response to your ramblings.
    Siddique Malik Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

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  • Bijoy
    Jan 4, 2012 - 9:20PM

    If logic be used to create law, there would be no law existed.
    Every person’s logic is not same.
    One will say, the punishment for rape should be 20 years’ jail.
    Another will say, the punishment should be 10 years’ jail.
    Some laws are created by logic, but not all.And, every law is not by logic.You should read Civics to know something about the sources of law,you will never find logic as the source of law in any book.
    “IF” Ayesha’s parents try to trap Abid,it is not even a moral fault to avoid her parents.

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  • Feb 17, 2012 - 3:00PM

    Yap, logic can resolve a lot of things, except stubbornness.

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