ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Muslim girls are being forced into converting to Hinduism in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, according to media reports.
Known as the resting place of the Buddha, Khushingar in UP is reporting an alarming number of cases where Muslim girls are being abducted and forced to convert to Hinduism by the BJP MP Yogi Adityanath's Hindu Yuva Vahini.
One of the forcibly converted Muslim girl, calls herself Ameesha Thakur, a name given by her husband Arvind. Just across the lane is Ameesha's maternal grandparent's house, where her family doesn't even acknowledge her existence. Abducted three years ago when she was just 13 and now married to a Hindu and living as one, she is not their little Zubeida Khatun any more.
Forced conversions: Call to remove controversial clause from Hindu Marriage Bill
"They made a public announcement in the panchayat that they will make her a Hindu. Now she is living like one, how can we accept this?'' questions her uncle Abdullah.
The reality is hard to accept for the family, which is one among the few Muslim families in the village. He alleges that their little girl was kidnapped by the powerful Thakur family and was forced to convert.
According to the FIR filed by Zubeida's family in 2013, Rameshwar Thakur and his sons Arvind and Nagin Thakur have been charged with kidnapping and compelling a young woman into marriage. According to the family, Rameshwar Singh's friends in the HYV engineered Zubeida's abduction.
Between 2014 and October 2016, 389 cases of underage girls missing or kidnapped were registered by the district police. Superintendent of Police, Bharat Kumar Yadav says, "No parents would want their daughters to marry willingly. Sometimes these girls are underage or have no documents to prove their age, in such cases we take their statements in front of a district magistrate."
More forced conversions going on than reported, says MP
A fact finding report of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) on Kushinagar found dozens of cases of rapes and forced kidnappings of young Muslim girls for religious conversion. The report, submitted to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in January 2016, blames `local goons of HYV' for the atrocities.
According to AIMMM President Mohammad Sulaiman, who believes all men accused of crimes have a connection with HYV, strong HYV influence and backwardness of the Muslim community in the region is a major factor behind the increasing number of cases.
Almost one-fourth of India's Muslim population lives in Uttar Pradesh. Within the state, 36% of the minority community is concentrated to the east. In Kushinagar, the Muslim population stands at a mere 16%.