TAXILA: A 22-year-old Sikh girl, who recently went missing under mysterious circumstances from her home, was reunited with her family on Tuesday, proving that theories about her abduction as well as forced conversion were mere propaganda, police sources said.
The girl went missing in Attock district’s Hassanabdal city, which is home to famous Sikh temple Gurdwara Punja Sahib, at around 10pm on Aug 31.
Her father, in his FIR lodged with the Hassanabdal police station, said his daughter had gone to a dump garbage in the street at 10pm on Aug 31, but did not return home.
He said that when the family couldn’t find her, he lodged a complaint with the Hassanabdal police station which subsequently registered a case under Section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code for kidnapping, abduction or inducing a woman to marry, and launched a hunt for the missing girl.
During the investigation, the police zeroed in on one suspect who was released after initial questioning. The family expressed fears that she might have converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.
However, all such fears proved to be baseless when the girl was reunited with her family at the Attock district police office. The young woman in her video statement raised Sikh religious slogans, along with her family, including father and mother. “Jo bolay so Nehal, Sat Sari Akal,” they chanted.
The Indian media had played up the issue and termed the incident “a case of forced conversion”. The Indian media’s fake propaganda triggered demonstrations staged by some Sikh organisations such as Delhi’s Shiromani Akali Dal Unit and Delhi’s Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee outside the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi against the alleged kidnapping.
Moreover, according to media reports, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs also summoned an official of the Pakistan High Commission over the issue.
In his statement, the father, who runs a herbal shop in Hassanabdal, thanked the government and Attock police for the safe and early recovery of his missing daughter. He said he was happy that his daughter was safely reunited with her family with her religion intact.
Representatives of the Sikh community also lauded efforts of the police and support of the federal and provincial governments as well as the Evacuee Trust Property Board and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee for making untiring efforts for the safe and early recovery of the girl.
Talking to Dawn, District Police Officer Syed Khalid Hamdani said that police teams’ weeks-long efforts proved fruitful and the Sikh girl was safely handed over to her father and mother after fulfilling legal requirements as she recorded her statement in a local court under Section 166 on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2020