HYDERABAD: Civil society organisations held protest rallies and demonstrations in various cities and towns of Sindh on Sunday against alleged atrocities on members of the minority communities in the country.

The fresh wave of protests has been triggered by the recent burning alive of a Christian couple in Kot Rada Kishan in Punjab over their alleged act of blasphemy and several incidents of ‘forced conversion’ of Hindu women in Sindh over the past few months.

Activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and several civil society organisations took out separate processions and held demonstrations outside the Hyderabad Press Club in protest against alleged kidnapping of Hindu girls and their ‘forced’ conversion.

Carrying banners and party’s flags, they raised slogans against the government and police for failing to protect the life, property and honour of the citizens belonging to religious minorities.

PTI minority wing activist Mohammad Shah, leading the protesting party colleagues, condemned the trend of ‘forced’ conversions and marriages of Hindu women and demanded action against the culprits.

Speaking to the media at a rally organised by civil society organisations, , Punhal Sario and other activists urged the government to play its due role in the recovery of ‘kidnapped’ Hindu girls and ensure protection to them and their families.

They vowed to intensify the protest if the women, including Anjali Kumari Meghwar of Daharki, Kajal Bheel of Uderolal Station (Matiari) and Kiran Kumari of Nawabshah, were not recovered and reunited with their parents.

Meanwhile Sindh National Party (SNP) chairman Ameer Bhambro, speaking at a press conference here on Sunday, demanded amendment to the blasphemy laws to ensure that religious minorities were not targeted by extremists. He said his party would hold a conference on inter-faith harmony within a few weeks.

He condemned killings and other heinous crimes in the name of religion and said the state must provide security to the followers of all religions and sects.

He urged the country’s political leadership, intellectuals and progressive and secular forces to group together to counter religious intolerance and extremism effectively.

UMERKOT: The Christian and Hindu communities in Umerkot took out a procession on Sunday to protest the burning of a Christian couple in Punjab for an alleged blasphemous act and the growing trend of Hindu women’s ‘forced’ conversion.

Led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MNA Lal Malhi, the protesters carrying placards and banners raised slogans against alleged atrocities on members of minority communities and demanded protection to them.

The procession was taken out from Teen Talwar Chowk and ended outside the local press club.

Speaking to the protesters, MNA Malhi termed the ‘sudden rise’ in kidnapping of Hindus for ransom, abduction of the community’s women for forced conversion and marriage, and other atrocities a conspiracy hatched by extremist forces serving vested interests. “The latest case of Anjali Meghwar, a minor who was kidnapped in Daharki and forced to convert and marry off a Muslim, is a glaring example of tyranny,” he said.

Religious extremism in Punjab, he said, was at its height as the PML-N government had completely failed to protect minorities. He strongly condemned the burning alive of a Christian couple in Kot Rada Kishan and demanded exemplary punishment to the culprits.

MIRPURKHAS: Several hundred members of the Christian community took part in a noisy demonstration held outside the local press club on Sunday to condemn the Kot Radha Kishan incident.

Father Abid Habib and Arif Manzoor led the protesters, who raised slogans for justice to the bereaved family and capital punishment to the couple’s killers.

They said that religious extremism leading to such incidents was a cause a alarm for all minority communities in Pakistan, and urged the government to take concrete steps to check the trend.

Special prayers were held in churches for the victims of religious extremism.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2014

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