Federal Minister for Information Fawad Hussain Chaudhry on Saturday said the federal government has taken notice of media reports of the alleged underage marriages and forced conversion of two Hindu girls in Ghotki.
On Thursday, two Hindu sisters, who were allegedly kidnapped from village Hafiz Salman near Deharki as per their parents, have embraced Islam, Ghotki’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) informed Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Iman.
The girls’ father and brother, in videos circulating on social media, say that the two sisters were abducted and forced into changing their religion. However, a separate video of the minor girls is also making the rounds, in which they say that they accepted Islam of their own free will.
Human rights activist Jibran Nasir was among those who raised the issue on Twitter, sharing a video which he said was of the two sisters, one aged 14 and the other 16.
In the video, a cleric can be seen next to the girls and two men who they were married to. The cleric says the girls were inspired by Islam and alleges that their family is spreading “false propaganda” and is threatening their lives.
Jibran Nasir said the Hindu sisters were converted at the Dargah Barchundi Sharif. “As per Dargah, girls wanted to convert to Islam since long influenced by its teachings, but first act after the conversion was underage marriage,” he said. The girls were reportedly taken to Rahim Yar Khan following their marriages.
Nasir also shared a copy of a first information report dated March 20, which was registered by the girls’ family against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.
“FIR [registered] with local police for ‘abducting to compel to marriage’. Age in FIR is 14 and 16,” said Nasir. “Under Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, every citizen under 18 falls under the definition of child and can’t be married.”
“Police has tried to dismiss the matter by citing a video of the two sisters in which they claim they willfully converted (sic) to Islam,” Nasir said.
Fawad said on Twitter that the Ministry of Human Rights had been “asked for an inquiry”. The information minister said he would share more information when it became available.
Karachi’s Central Police Office (CPO) claimed that the two Hindu girls who left their house stated in a recorded video that neither anyone had abducted them nor held them hostage as they had left their home on their own will and have embraced Islam without any pressure.
Reena, aged 14, and Raveena, aged 16 left their home as parents said that they had been abducted. However, locals were suspicious that the girls might have fled on their, but there was no confirmation in this regard.
The heirs and relatives had also held a protest demonstration on National Highway for the recovery of the girls. The protesters, carrying placards and banners, were chanting slogans against the police for not taking firm action and were demanding immediate recovery of the girls and arrest of the accused. They alleged that police were silent over the issue.
However, police started a search for the girls and also arrested one suspect Ahmed Shah while the search for other accused persons was underway.