ISLAMABAD: Wednesday saw the drop scene of a much-publicised ‘forced conversion’ saga. Three Hindu women, who rights campaigners alleged were forced to convert by Muslim proselytizers, chose their Muslim spouses over their families.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had earlier sent the three women to the Panah shelter home, so that they could decide their future without any pressure or fear.
The court was hearing a petition, filed by Dr Rumaish Kumar, patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.
The petitioner alleged that the three women – Rinkle Kumari, Dr Lata and Asha Kumari from interior of Sindh – were abducted and forced to convert to Islam. After conversion, they were renamed Faryal, Hafsa Bibi and Haleema Bibi, respectively.
On Wednesday, the three women submitted their statements in the Registrar Office of the Supreme Court wherein they said that they wanted to live with their husbands and not their parents.
Justice Chaudhry sent them to the Registrar Office after relatives tried to influence the girls in the courtroom. The bench observed that since the girls were adult, they could decide their future.
The bench then directed police chiefs (DIGs) of Sukkur and Jacobabad districts, to which the girls belong, to ensure the three converts and their husbands live in a place of their choice. The court also made the police responsible for the security of the couples.
The court closed the case and directed the police to submit a fortnightly report in this regard.
Not happy with the court ruling, parents said that the women should have been asked to submit their statements in the courtroom, and not the Registrar Office. They also staged a protest outside the apex court building.
On her part, Faryal reiterated that she was neither kidnapped, nor forcibly proselytised. She added that she has embraced Islam of her own choosing.
In his petition, the Pakistan Hindu Council patron-in-chief has asked for legislation to stop alleged forced conversions of faith. The court has sought the federal government’s response to discourage forced conversions and address other issues faced by the Hindu community.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2012.