Pakistan HC to probe Hindu girls ‘forced’ conversion

Islamabad, April 2 (IANS): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday constituted a five-member commission to probe the alleged abduction, forced conversion and marriage of two Hindu sisters in Sindh province that led to protests by the minority community in the country.

A bench headed by Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by the girls — Reena, Raveena and their husbands Safdar Ali and Barkat Ali — seeking protection, Geo News reported.

The petition by the girls stated that they were born in a Hindu family of Ghotki, Sindh and converted because they were “impressed by Islamic teachings”. It claimed that they did not inform their family because of “threats to their lives”.

The plea also stated that the two girls left their home on March 20 and two days later they willingly converted and entered into marriages.

However, the counsel for the girls’ parents said that the case pertained to forced conversion.

The government took notice of the incident after two videos went viral on social media, Geo News said.

In one of the videos, the girls’ father and brother revealed the details, claiming that the sisters were abducted from their residence and forcefully converted from Hinduism to Islam before they were subjected to underage marriages.

In the video, the girls’ father claimed that they were 13 and 14 years old.

It was followed by another video in which the two girls claimed that they had converted to Islam.

The girls’ father had filed a petition in the IHC on Monday, requesting the court to constitute a medical board “for determination of the exact age” of the two sisters.

The petition also sought directions for the government to conduct a psychological test on the girls for Stockholm Syndrome — a feeling of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.

Amid the uproar over the case, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the Sindh and Punjab governments to probe the issue and recover the girls if the forceful conversion allegation was correct.

Chief Justice Minallah also ordered that a medical board be constituted to determine the age of the girls and asked for its report at the next hearing on April 11.

Earlier, a medical report by the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences stated that the girls were not minors at the time of their marriages.

The medical report was dismissed by the sisters’ family as well as opposition lawmaker from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Darshan Punshi, who belongs to the Hindu community.

The hearing of the case has been adjourned till April 11.