Punjab govt to negotiate with Sikh community over alleged forced conversion of 19-year-old girl

Published August 30, 2019
A 19-year-old Sikh girl was allegedly abducted and converted to Islam forcefully. — AP/File
A 19-year-old Sikh girl was allegedly abducted and converted to Islam forcefully. — AP/File

A high-level committee, headed by Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, has been constituted by the provincial government in order to negotiate with a 30-member committee formed by Pakistan's Sikh community in relation to a case pertaining to the alleged forced conversion of a Sikh girl, it emerged on Friday.

According to a memorandum sent to inspector general of police (IGP) Punjab by the district police officer (DPO) of Nankana Sahib, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed in the Nankana police station on August 28 against six people who were accused of abducting and forcefully converting 19-year-old Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur.

The police subsequently traced the suspects to Lahore and detained one of them. Three of the suspects obtained pre-arrest bail while two others are at large, the memorandum said.

The police were subsequently contacted by Sheikh Sultan, Kaur's advocate, who told them she had embraced Islam, was given the name Ayesha, and then contracted marriage with Mohammad Hassan — one of the main suspects — of her own free will.

Sultan further said that he had filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court on behalf of Kaur against her family and local police, accusing them of "illegal harassment".

The girl also submitted a written statement in the court, stating that she had converted to Islam and married Hassan of her own free will. She also accused her family of "wanting to kill her". She is currently housed in Darul Aman, Lahore, as per the orders of an additional sessions judge.

The DPO, in his memorandum, attached the "relevant documentary and video proof of the nikah and the girl's conversion to Islam". Copies of the documents from the National Database and Registration Authority, which show that Kaur is 19 years of age, and the nikahnama were also attached.

Following the girl's statements in court, the Sikh community has demanded that the police bring her back to her parents' house irrespective of the conversion being forced or consensual.

The DPO informed the IGP that the Sikh community was "agitating against the incident and videos of family of the girl [were] also viral on social media and international media".

"It is requested that concerned quarters may kindly be taken on board so that Sikh community could be engaged and pacified timely as the community has announced to protest if their demand is not honoured," he wrote.

"It is pertinent to mention here that in the backdrop of Indo-Pak tension vis-a-vis [occupied] Kashmir, any such protest could damage image of the country internationally," he added.

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