KARACHI: “Can you accept your daughters forcibly being married to Hindu men?” said Rinkle Kumari’s uncle Raj Kumar at a seminar titled ‘Hindus in Pakistan — issues and solutions’ held at the Karachi Press Club here on Sunday.
Calling a little six-year-old girl, Jumna, onto the stage, he said that she along with her 10-year-old sister, Pooja, was also being forced to change 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,” he said.
Jumna’s parents, mother Marju and father Soma, were also present. Soma said that they were residents of Akhtar Colony in Mirpurkhas. “We are poor people. My little girls helped supplement our income by selling clay toys and utensils door to door. On Feb 4 they left home as usual with their basket of toys but didn’t return. We raised alarm. “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.
“Then the court sent them to a Darul Aman over 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,” the girls’ father, Soma, wept.
Mr Kishan Chand Parwani, chairman of the All Hindu Rights Organisation, the organisers of the seminar, said that it was sad to see the problems of minorities in Pakistan multiplying instead of decreasing.
“I have served as an MNA in this country five times now and know that the rights of Hindus have never remained a priority here. We came up with the Marriage Act for Hindus but it was never passed by the assembly as the government finished its term. So underage Hindu girls are being forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men.
“Minorities are protected by law everywhere in the world but the Hindu community in Pakistan is facing harassment at every level,” he said.
To prove this point several affectees from Sindh came to narrate their ordeal.
All present on the occasion agreed that people representing them in the assemblies were actually their parties’ yes men.
Politician Dr Riaz Chandio said that they would have had no problems with their daughters converting to Islam if they did so of their own free will. “But we know that this is not so. Rinkle Kumari’s case is before us,” he said.
Former minister Jai Prakash from Quetta said that he had found his party and government supportive to his community. “For instance, an old Hindu temple was falling within the area marked out for the Hingol Dam in Balochistan but the map was changed to avoid destroying it after I raised the issue with government,” he said.
Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research said that minorities should make themselves as visible as possible in order for the country to think about them, too. “When you need to go to court to change your name then how can you be changing your religion without any legal proceedings?”
Writer and poet Fahmida Riaz said that she only wanted to thank the Hindu community to finally come on a platform to raise their voice for their rights. “Looting and plundering is going on everywhere but when it happens to members of the Hindu community it is done especially knowing that you won’t fight back. So get up and fight for your rights,” she said.
Former senator Safdar Abbasi said that it was a sad reality that not just Hindu temples but also mosques, Imambargahs and churches were not safe in Pakistan these days.
Iqbal Butt of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan was of the opinion that one had to raise an issue to be able to solve it.