Anjali or Salma?: Alleged forced conversion sparks protest in Sukkur

Published: November 2, 2014
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Hindu girl converts and marries a Muslim man; community claims she was kidnapped. STOCK IMAGE

Hindu girl converts and marries a Muslim man; community claims she was kidnapped. STOCK IMAGE

SUKKUR: 

The alleged forced conversion of a Hindu girl and her subsequent marriage with a Muslim man has triggered protests from her community in Sukkur.

Anjali Kumari Meghwar, daughter of schoolteacher Kundan Mal Meghwar, a resident of Mustafa Abad Mohalla, disappeared four days ago, residents said. Subsequently, rumours surfaced that she had eloped with Riaz Sial, son of Anwar Sial, a resident of Maswan Mohalla. The girl’s parents and community, however, allege that she was kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam.

On Friday, Kumari was handed over to the police with help of an influential figure of Daharki, but the boy is yet to be arrested. According to reports, Anjali has converted to Islam at Dargah Bharchoondi Sharif and also recorded her statement under Section 164 in a court in Sadiqabad, Punjab two days ago.

The Hindu community observed a shutter-down strike in the town, demanding the girl be handed over to her parents. The police produced Anjali in the civil court on Friday, but her statement could not be recorded as the court time was up.

An official at Daharki police station said that Anjali is in their custody. Asked why she was not produced in the court till now, the official said this matter has to be decided by the high-ups. The SHO Daharki police station, Qalb Abbas Shah, was not available for comments.

President of the Hindu Panchayat Daharki, Mukhi Namo Mal, talking to The Express Tribune, said that Riaz’s father had been working in his cotton factory as a watchman for the last many years. According to Namo Mal, the girl is too young to take big decisions like marrying or converting to Islam. “We are observing a complete shutter down strike in Daharki and if justice is not delivered, then we will widen our protest.”

Mukhi (chief) of the Meghwar community, Jaswant Meghwar, endorses Namo Mal. “Anjali is just 12-years-old and therefore neither can she marry, nor can she choose another religion of her free will,” he said, demanding of the police to hand over the girl to the parents.

Prominent Hindu lawmaker and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, has recorded protest during the recent session of the National Assembly regarding this case.

The other side of the story

On the other hand, Pir Abdul Khaliq of Bharchoondi Sharif confirmed that the girl had contacted him some days ago and had expressed her desire to convert to Islam. He added that she had filed an application in the court, demanding protection. Pir Sahib further said that “Islam does not allow forced conversion and we do not force any Hindu to embrace Islam. But they do come to us themselves”.

According to him, Anjali had come to the Dargah a couple of days ago and had embraced Islam of her own free will.

He revealed that her Islamic name is Salma Bibi. Replying to a question about Hindus claiming that the girl is under age, Pir Sahib referred to the Rinkle Kumari (Faryal) case, pointing out that her family had also claimed that the girl was under age, but later it was proven that she was above 18 years of age.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Satish, DXB
    Nov 2, 2014 - 10:44AM

    Absolutely unbelievable .. My heart goes out to the family of this little girl .. This is in-human and shameful .. Hope the authorities hand over the girl to her family. Request the Indian government to open asylum window to all suffering Hindus in Pakistan

    Recommend

  • Nov 2, 2014 - 11:16AM

    Sindh or Federal Government should be sealed such places,where is being violated women/human rights as forced change religous as like Bhar Chondi Dargah.

    Recommend

  • Shahana
    Nov 2, 2014 - 1:19PM

    “Anjali had come to the Dargah a couple of days ago and had embraced Islam of her own free will.”
    They cannot blame the whole Muslim community for the deeds of their 12-year old immature Lolitas. Everytime the case of a hindu girl running away to marry a muslim man comes up, hindu parents claim that she had been ‘kidnapped’ just to save their ‘honour’. I live in interior Sindh so I’m very well aware of the mentality that prevails here.

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Nov 2, 2014 - 1:38PM

    ET:
    Please do not block my comments as we need to stop these conversions by rape and force that happens regularly in Pakistan. Also, all my comments are factual and also have reasons and logic.
    Once again, please do not block my comments and we need to raise awareness on these issues. I would request you to publish all comments from Pakistani muslims and any muslim without editing. Reading their comments would make others aware of their thinking and may be there would be a realization that could lead to a correction. Support in wiping out vices.

    Recommend

  • INB
    Nov 2, 2014 - 4:21PM

    Be it Islam or hindism or chriatianity, any “adult” should be allowed to change his/religion but it should be free of any pressure.

    Recommend

  • Moiz Omar
    Nov 2, 2014 - 5:03PM

    How can she have been married?! She is just 12!! This is probably a forced conversion and marriage.

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  • Striver
    Nov 2, 2014 - 5:51PM

    This is ZULM. God never forgives the Zalim perpetrator.

    At 12 she probably does not understand her own religion let alone Islam. These mullahs don’t make sense.

    This needs to be investigated further.

    Recommend

  • NSR
    Nov 2, 2014 - 11:10PM

    ET always blocks my comments…It is either willingly complicit or in fear of religious fundamentalists or army…

    I think it is shameful to continue this practice…Please go back to the start of independence and see the population statistics…The minority population decreased to significantly in Pakistan due to kidnappings, forced conversions and marriages of girls and women…Why it does not happen to men and boys…Police, Judiciary, and ET must be fair in investigation and publication of true facts…

    Almost all the minorities who can afford already fled to India…Recommend

  • Sateesh Kumar
    Nov 3, 2014 - 12:43AM

    @Shahana:
    Do you think she has enough sense at this age to know what a religion is ? Can she compare religions and decide a better one at this age ? She is just 12 years old. I am from Daharki. I know how things happen there. So, first go and research then comment.

    Recommend

  • South Indian
    Nov 3, 2014 - 1:39AM

    @ Moiz Omar

    She may not even 12,for all you know.
    There was news about a ‘forced’ conversion to islam,kidnap & ‘rape’ in North India recently. I was shocked.
    Later,on medical examination it was found that the 22 yr old hindu woman had undergone a medical termination of a pregnancy.
    Still later,she recanted & admitted that she filed a false case ,under pressure from her family.
    I read up a bit & uderstood that ‘forced’ conversion is usually a fake ploy-either by families,to cover up their errant daughters’ indiscretion or by hindutva groups with malicious intent,to rake up trouble for religious minorities with accusations meant to inflame public opinion. (usually,on further investigation, such conversions turn out to be voluntary & not coerced )

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Nov 3, 2014 - 9:24AM

    @NSR:
    “…kidnappings, forced conversions and marriages of girls and women…”
    It does not en there. Within few months the muslim husbands sell off their converted muslim wives to others. In Pakistan muslim have been selling off their wives in huge numbers for many, many decades. Hundreds of thousands of hindu and christian girls have been converted in the past in Pakistan but no one has heard from even one such girl after her conversion. As soon as she is taken to a muslim home, the muslim families and neighborhood prevent the girl from meeting any of her hindu or christian relatives or friends. They guard her. Courts also prevent the girls from talking to her relatives. This girl also will not be allowed to talk to her relative. She has been taken to a shelter (probably an islamic shelter) where she will be coerced and threatened with dire consequences for her family and forced to say that she converted willingly. It is easy for anyone to find out from Government’s own NADRA records as to how long the girls rein married to their muslim men and their present whereabouts. No Pakistani, their media, government, politicians, law enforcement or courts will ever want to do this as this will bring out the truth. Overseas Pakistanis will also never ask for this even in their comments. Pakistani muslim woman help their men in all these. How could a man bring home a 12 year old girl in his family home otherwise.

    Watch whar Nijam Sethi says in this 5 minute clip:
    http://twecontent.com/amazing/box/yMximehG3Pw/najam-sethi-on-force-conversio.html

    Recommend

  • Nov 3, 2014 - 3:15PM

    INJUSTICE in our beloved country Pakistan, Where as the Article199 of Constitution of Pakistan is very much clear that every citizen of Pakistan has rights to live happy life but specially we minorities are very much deprive from their rights… Where is Government, Higher Authorities, Polices, Pakistan Army, Civil Society, Pakistan Human Rights, Political Leader, and all who responsible for this current situation… I condemn

    https://www.facebook.com/Dileepkumarmanglani86?fref=ts

    Recommend

  • Mirchoo
    Nov 3, 2014 - 3:41PM

    This is very unfortunate. Exploitation is increasing, intensively. The situation will further worsen as the rulers are with the vadera shahi and there is no one in them who stands on principle. They have one agenda to increase there wealth and influence.

    Every one who is concerned should raise voice.

    Recommend

  • Pakistanis
    Nov 3, 2014 - 10:31PM

    All the government needs to do is catch the culprits and thrash them once on camera.Then it is highly unlikely that these incidents will ever happen again.

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Nov 3, 2014 - 11:48PM

    @Pakistanis:
    Sindh Government recently enacted laws that prohibit marriage to minors who are less than 18 years old. The person who marries, his family and also the persons who solemnize the marriage (mullas) are punishable under this law. The question is “Will this law be applied?”. My bet, it won’t be applied. Police will never catch the man who married this 12 year old girl. My next question is can anyone, including the mulla who converted her accept her conversion and is a 12 year old who would not know of her own religion convert to another religion that too all alone and on her own without any other member from her family with her when she converted? How can Pakistani muslim society accept this?

    Recommend

  • Professor
    Nov 4, 2014 - 6:36AM

    Forced conversions were the way the religion spread into this region. You can never hear of forced conversions in any other religion.

    Recommend

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