If people are forced to convert or marry then it creates a different situation as that is not allowed in any religion or by the law, said advocate Mukesh Kumar Karira while speaking at a workshop organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in Sukkur on Thursday.
While discussing forced conversions and marriages, Karira said that he did not understand why Hindu girls were kept at undisclosed locations after they converted and were married 10 to 15 days before they were supposed to be presented in court.
“Our legal system,” he said, “is based on the British and Shariah law. When these girls appear before the court they apply Shariah law.” He added that an individual over the age of 18 can be held responsible for their conduct, but these girls who were usually between the ages of 13 and 16, were not mature enough to make such decisions.
The advocate gave the example of Mirpur Mathelo’s Rinkle Kumari case. He claimed that in the statement she gave before the court, she denied that she had converted or married out of her free will. He said that while she was in court there were a hundred men standing outside the court and the magistrate overlooked her statement and sent her to the women’s police station in Sukkur. “I managed to meet her at the station,” he said. “But the policemen were not ready to let her talk to me alone and this shows that there was something fishy going on.” The advocate added that he had suggested to the government to form a nine member committee with the deputy commissioner, SSP, two activists from the HRCP, a journalist, two Muslim scholars and the girl’s parents. “Once this is done,” he said, “The Hindu girl who converted to Islam should appear before the committee and they can decide if she was forced to do it or not.” He added that in most cases, when a girl converts, her family disowns her and what is she to do if her husband divorces her? Where is she to go?
According to Prof. Naeem Sadiq, using force to convert an individual was not allowed in any religion and that it was the responsibility of the society to protect the rights of the minorities.
He said that in the past Muslims, Christians and Hindus used to live together quite peacefully but due to a certain mindset, there was a gap growing between them.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2014.