Islamabad High Court allows Hindu Sisters to go with Muslim husbands

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Islamabad: April 12, 2019. (PCP) IHC Division Bench ordered Two Hindu Sisters to go with their Muslim husbands here today after age certificates issued by Surgeon and testimony of commission that girls accepted Islam with free will but not forced to convert here today.

Both sisters were kidnapped and enforcedly converted to Islam and given in Islamic marriage to unknown Muslims on day of Holi celebrations in Ghotki district of Sindh.

The parents of girls produced Forms B of NADRA that girls are minors but they were not accepted by court but certificate of age issued by a doctor which are mostly issued fake and all are aware of it.

According to BPCA press release, Holi is an ancient festival popularly known as the "festival of love", or the "festival of colours". It is a celebration steeped in ancient beliefs and customs, at it's core it is about the victory of good over evil, rekindling broken relationships, and the coming of Spring. Although it's origins are Hindu in nature many people of different backgrounds take to the streets to throw a myriad of brightly coloured powders at each other in carefree fun. However, this usually bright and joyful celebration turned dark for one unsuspecting family.

On Wed April 3 in the town of Daharki which is located in the Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, young Raveena Kumari (16) and her sister Reena Kumari (14) were innocently enjoying the eve of Holi, unaware of the potential danger they were in. Unfortunately for them two Muslim men used the distraction of the festival as an opportunity to kidnap both Raveena and Reena.

As word spread about the kidnapping a near-by Hindu town rallied together in an act of outrage, blocking off highways and protesting against the abduction of these two young girls.

Raveena and Reena's family claim that people from the Kohbar and Malik tribes are responsible for the girl's kidnapping. Chaman Lal, a resident of the town Drakki, told Mehwish Bhatti a BPCA reporter, that armed men attacked his house Wednesday and kidnapped his 14 and 15-year-old sisters. When Chaman Lal and his family reported the crime to the police they were met with resistance.

Hindu leaders haven't been silent about abduction of these young girls, but even they were also met with resistance from police

“We have approached the police in order to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) but it all has been in vain.”said Chaman Lal

The incident took an even darker turn after a video was uploaded on social media which appeared to show the Reena and Raveena converting to Islam. Both the sisters showed signs of being under duress in the video. Human rights activists have claimed that this is another case of forced conversion and abduction, which are becoming increasingly common in the southern region of Sindh.

Mukhi Shiv Menghwar, added: “It was not free will when the girls were firstly kidnapped and then forcibly converted."

Friend of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Sham Lal a Hindu local tehsil (district) Councillor met with the family of the victims. With the help of the BPCA the parents of the two girls were able to challenge local Police to register an FIR, through brother of the abductees Shamaan Das (30 yrs), after we paid for a petition to be submitted to the Bhawalpur High Court on 25th March 2019. BPCA also paid for a medical examination of the two girls which forms a significant part of the evidence for the case and a police investigation ensued.

Mother of the two kidnapped girls Ajbi (48 yrs) has been beset with a deep depression veering on suicidal.

Mother of the two sisters Ajbi, said: "If my two daughters are not returned to me I will commit suicide as a political statement - this injustice to Hindu women cannot be allowed to continue."

The case was moved to Islamabad High Court after a petition was submitted for protection of the girls was submitted to Islamabad Court by the men who had forcibly married the children.

On Tuesday 11th April 2019 a bench, headed by Islamabad High Court (IHC), Chief Justice Athar Minallah, heard the girls' petition asking for protection. The young sisters said that they converted to Islam of their own free will and should be given protection in a video that was shared on international media which showed one of the sisters weeping excessively as she gave her testimony. However the tear-filled testimony did little to sway the judiciary who declared that medical evidence suggested both girls were 18 despite submitted birth certificates to the contrarary. The court also stateed that the sisters had lawfully accepted Islam, based on their given testimonies which BPCA and the parents feel is based on pressure applied by the powerful rapists and their cohorts and threats to kill the young girls' families.

The court ruled that the young women can't be taken to Sindh till their case has been heard. A female Superintendent Police (SP) should ensure their security, the court ordered. The women, identified as Asiya aka Raveena and Nadia aka Reena, and their husbands have been handed into the custody of the Islamabad Deputy Commissioner. They have set the next hearing for the case to be heard at High Court on 14th May 2019

"The government should provide all types of protection to the young women", the court said. Justice Athar Minullah said that it is an extremely sensitive case.

All respondents in the case have been asked to submit their replies too. The respondents include Ramesh Kumar, Harilal, Sindh Inspector General (IG), interior ministry, Sindh Chief Minister, Human Rights Ministry, Chief Secretary, the Sindh government and the federal government.

Islamabad High Court has ordered the federal government to submit a detailed report on the case too.

Their husbands, Barkat and Shafaqat, have filed a bail petition in the court too. Their lawyer, Umair Baloch, submitted the petition. An FIR has been registered against them, the petition says. The police should be stopped from arresting them.

The brother of the young women, Shaman Daas, had registered a case against six people at the Ghotki police station on March 21. Safdar Malik, Barkat Ali and Aman Shah have been named in the case. Three unidentified men have been mentioned too, said Investigating Officer (IO) Sahabuddin.

The family of the two girls claim that they were kidnapped and forcibly converted and married to Muslim men. Shaman Daas submitted a petition in the Lahore High Court’s Bahawalpur division bench for the recovery of his sisters. He submitted the birth certificates of the Ghotki girls to the court. Daas said his sisters –Raveena and Reena—are underage as they are aged 13 and 15 years.

The birth certificate shows Raveena was born in 2004 and Reena in 2006. Shaman Daas reached Bahawalpur along with his lawyers. “We came to Bahawalpur as we were told that the girls will be produced before the court in Bahawalpur,” he said. But, they haven’t been produced so far, he said.

Wilson Chowdhry, President of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "These two sisters must be allowed to return to their families even if for a short while so that they can see that the brutal rapists cannot hurt the families.

"They must be allowed to see that their families care about them and will protect them."

"We have been able to help the family due to friendship with Cllr Sham Lal. However if minorities are to beat the scourge of extremism there must be increased working together amongst Hindus and Christians."

He added:

"The kidnapping of Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan, has reached new heights.

"In 2014, Muslim NGO Movement of Solidarity and Peace reported that 700 Christian girls and 300 Hindu girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year, a figure that both Christian and Hindu groups believe to be conservative.

"The declining population of Christians and Hindus is believed to be due to the severe persecution that both communities face in Pakistan, of which the forced marriage of their women is said to be a significant factor - without wives how can Christian and Hindu men reproduce?

"Every elected government has failed to address this growing social malaise despite new marriage laws such as the Hindu Marriage Laws 2017, that outlaw bigamy reducing the risk of Hindu women becoming second wives for Muslim rapists.

"If anything there seems to be little political will to cahneg the situation. Most minority MP's disempowered by their weakened status as selected rather than elected Members of Parliament under Pakistan's dual voting system, cave-in to the demands of their Muslim parties who have been hijacked by extremists.

"Atempts by the BPCA and many other NGO's to challenge for a raising of the legal consent for marriage in Pakistan from 16 - 18 have failed, but even then such laws would provide limited succour in a country where the Muslim population are not sexually deviant but sexually depraved.

 

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