KARACHI/ SUKKUR: Her name has become synonymous for Hindu rights given the proportion her case has assumed both inside court and out. And on Monday, the clear-faced Rinkle Kumari (now Faryal), at the centre of a Hindu conversion and marriage case, was sent to a women’s shelter till March 26 when the country’s top court has summoned her.
Justice Shahid Anwar Bajwa of the Sindh High Court ordered the police to ensure she is protected until then. His orders came in the evening after a day of high drama not just in Karachi but in Ghotki as well. The corridors of the courts overflowed with Rinkle’s family and their supporters and people from her husband Naveed Shah’s side.
It became so emotionally high pitched that the judge retired to his chambers after her uncle Raj Kumar’s supporters made a ruckus. Justice Bajwa returned only when the policemen posted in riot gear removed every irrelevant person from the court, including women from the Kumari family.
There was an unusually high turnout of progressive political parties, giving an indication of the celebrity of the case. Marvi Memon, a vocal politician who has just joined the Nawaz Sharif camp, was flanked by Saleem Zia, Dr Safdar Sarki and Qamar Bhatti. Noted scholar and columnist Amar Jalil’s presence was conspicuously noted.
Her uncle Raj Kumar’s lawyers Rasheed A Razvi and Noor Naz Agha maintained that Rinkle was abducted from Mirpur Mathelo by Syed Naveed Shah on February 24. She was taken to a religio-political figure of the area and was forced to convert to Islam. They said that she was under tremendous pressure and unable to express herself freely. The family wants her to be in a space where she can feel secure and safe enough to record her statement without any fear or pressure from any side.
Her husband’s lawyers, Muhammad Junaid Farooqui and Ghulam Qadir Jatoi, told the court that she has already made a statement before the Ghotki judicial magistrate, denying that she was abducted or forced to convert. In view of this, they argued, she should be allowed to leave with Naveed Shah. They also asked for protection as they said that the couple is in danger.
Sindh Advocate General Abdul Fattah Malik told the court that the Supreme Court has already summoned her to appear on March 26.
After hearing both sides, the judge reserved his judgment and it was announced late in the evening. It was spread over six pages. He has ordered for her to be kept at a darul aman until the police escort her to Islamabad.
As soon as the judgment was reserved, a heavy police posse whisked the couple away in an armoured personnel carrier from gate reserved for judges only.
Her uncle, Raj Kumar, later told the media that if she is allowed to record her statement without any fear of pressure, the family would accept her decision.
Ghotki was buzzing on Monday as security arrangements were being made throughout the district to avoid violent reactions from her Sindh High Court appearance. The case has caused quite a stir – so much so that the authorities had to cordon off Mirpur Mathelo, the place where it all started. As Ghotki SSP Pir Mohammad Shah had gone with Rinkle and her husband to court, the SSP of Naushehro Feroze, Jawad Jaskani, was asked to monitor the district.
Sources claim that the president sent Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Nafisa Shah and MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi to Mirpur Mathelo to meet members of the Hindu community and resolve the issue. They went to Heera Nand Darbar and met Mirpur Mathelo’s Hindu Panchayat president Nand Lal, Kako Ram, Shankar Lal and Dr Mehar Chand. Some members of the community condemned the incident and said that Rinkle was forced to convert.
According to the MPA, SSP Shah and PPP MNA Mian Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho had not handled the matter well. The Hindu elders complained that they had tried to get in touch with the SSP but he did not take their calls. They claim that Rinkle was being pressured by the Pirs of Bharchoondi Sharif to convert. According to the panchayat, Faryal’s parents were not given a chance give their side of the story in court and she was pressured to give make a statement in favour of her husband, Naveed. They believe that she should be handed over to her parents instead of giving statements in court.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Pitafi said that Hindu girls often elope and convert but these cases did not get the same attention as Rinkle’s case. He added that there should be something written down in law to help people who convert to Islam.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2012.