KARACHI: Days after news of the abduction and alleged forced conversion of two underage girls in Ghotki district created uproar, another case has emerged, this time in Badin, where a 16-year-old Hindu girl has allegedly been abducted.
According to an Information Department handout, the Sindh Minister for Minorities Affairs Hari Ram Kishori Lal has taken notice of a news item that went viral on social media regarding the alleged abduction of 16-year-old M*, who belongs to the Meghwar community, from Tando Bagho of district Badin and directed Badin SSP Sardar Hassan Niazi to register an FIR of the incident immediately and also take necessary steps to protect the girl’s family.
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The minister also directed the Badin SSP to submit a detailed report of the incident, besides instructing the Minorities Affairs Director Mushtaq Ahmed Soomro to contact girl’s relatives and provide them all possible help for her safe recovery.
The incident occurred in Village Dhani Buksh Pitafi on the night between March 16 and 17, according to the FIR registered by the victim’s father, Gov Meghwar, in Pangrio Police Station on March 26.
Meghwar states in his complaint that the main accused, Ghulam Haider Thaheem, along with three accomplices, one of whom he recognised as Ghulam Nabi Shah, broke into his house at around 3am, woke up his daughter and dragged her to a waiting vehicle outside and fled with her.
Meghwar asked the police to apprehend the suspects for he feared his daughter would either be killed or be forced to convert and then marry.
Meanwhile, villagers claim that the girl had eloped with a boy of her choice and had converted to Islam in a madrassah in Samaro Tehsil. She had then married of her free will.
According to an affidavit signed by the girl, she has claimed to be 19 years old and has stated that she converted to Islam of her own free will. She has also filed a petition in the Sanghar District Court for protection.
Ban on underage marriages
According to the minister, the marriage of underage girls is banned in Sindh under the
The Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act 2013, adding that it was a criminal act to marry a girl who was below the age of 18 years. Lal said that the Act is being strictly implemented in Sindh.
In this regard, he quoted the incident of 11-year-old Monika, who was abducted from Hala of Matiari district, in which the court ordered to return the girl to her parents on the grounds of the law.
Forced Hindu conversions
Speaking about the Ghotki case, he said that the two underage sisters were taken to Punjab because of early age marriage restrictions. He asked the federal government to create consensus on the forced conversion law and introduce an early age restriction bill at the federal level so that minorities were provided protection in such cases when they were taken to other provinces.
According to Lal, the Sindh government is working to establish the Sindh Minorities Protection Commission and its draft has been approved by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah two days ago.
He said that a meeting was also held under the Sindh chief secretary to discuss the commission’s operation and make it more effective for the protection of minorities. The meeting was also attended by the Attorney-General of Pakistan, who presented his valuable input, he said. The minister added that the draft of the Sindh Minorities Protection Commission would soon be presented in the Sindh cabinet for approval.
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