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PTI | KARACHI | Feb 17, 2014:: Pakistan’s Hindu minority is angered by “forced conversions”, with leaders of the community saying girls as young as six years were being pressured to change their religion.
“Can you accept your daughters being forcibly married to Hindu men?” said Raj Kumar, whose niece Rinkle Kumari was allegedly forced to convert and marry a Muslim man in 2012. Rinkle’s case made headlines and was even taken up by the Supreme Court.
Speaking at a seminar at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday on the theme “Hindus in Pakistan – issues and solutions”, Kumar called six-year-old Jumna on to the stage and said she and her 10-year-old sister Pooja would have been forced to change their religion if the media had not raised their case.
“What do children as young as Jumna and Pooja know about Islam and their own religion, for that matter, that they’d want to convert? This is the height of injustice,” Kumar was quoted as saying by the influential Dawn daily.
Jumna’s mother Marju and father Soma, residents of Mirpurkhas city in Sindh province, were present at the event.
“We are poor people. My little girls helped supplement our income by selling clay toys and utensils door to door. On February 4, they left home as usual with their basket of toys but didn’t return. We raised an alarm,” Soma said.
“After several reports in the media about our missing girls, it was found that they had been staying with a man named Rajab Pathan. The police of our area later produced them in court as Muslim children. We were prevented by the police from seeing them too.”
Soma said the court sent the girls to a Darul Aman or womens’ home following suspicions they may have been subjected to child abuse at home.
“Little Jumna has been given back to us now but Pooja is still at the Darul Aman. She seems to have been brainwashed into saying strange things about us. Her mind seems affected by the trauma,” he said.
All Hindu Rights Organisation chairman Kishan Chand Parwani, one of the organisers of the seminar, said it was sad to see the problems of Pakistan’s minorities “multiplying instead of decreasing”.
Former lawmaker Safdar Abbasi said it was a sad reality that not just Hindu temples but mosques, imambargahs or Shia prayer halls and churches were no longer safe in Pakistan.