Police officials in Faisalabad, Sukkur deny reports of minor Christian girl's forced conversion, abuse
Police officials in Faisalabad and Sukkur on Thursday denied reports of the alleged rape and torture of a minor Christian girl in their respective cities as netizens shared posts detailing the girl's purported ordeal and demanding authorities take action against the perpetrators.
The hashtag, #JusticeforSunitaMasih, has been trending on Twitter for the last two days after several prominent personalities, including celebrities and civil society members, tweeted about the incident, calling on Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice and ensure that justice was provided to the girl.
An analysis of the trend using the Twitter analytics tool, socialbearing.com, showed that the hashtag was initially tweeted on May 24 at around 5pm. The trend picked up the next day and the hashtag has since been tweeted hundreds of times by users, the majority of whom are from Pakistan, but also by others from India, the US, Canada and Australia.
Among them was actor Armeena Rana Khan who alleged that the 14-year-old from Faisalabad was gang-raped and asked to recite the Kalima. When the minor girl refused to do so, her head was shaved, she claimed.
When the alleged incident was brought to the notice of Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister's focal person for digital media, he said it had taken place in Shikarpur, Sindh instead of Faisalabad.
However, police officials from both Faisalabad and Shikarpur have denied that any such incident took place in the two cities.
Faisalabad City Police Officer (CPO) Mohammad Sohail Chaudhry said "false news [is] circulating on social media that a girl has been raped and forced to convert to Islam and it's reported to be in Faisalabad."
"This was verified and [it was] found out that facts are contrary and the incident is related to Sukkur District," he said in a statement, adding that SSP Sukkur Irfan Samoo had also corroborated it.
However, Sukkur Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Fida Hussain categorically denied that a Christian girl was subjected to criminal assault by anyone.
"This probably happened in Faisalabad, not Sukkur," he said. Nobody has so far come forward with a complaint regarding the alleged incident, he said, adding: "We are ready to proceed if some complaint is lodged or some evidence is produced before us.
"Sukkur police is ready to take action if any such offence has been committed by someone regardless of the religion of the woman or girl."
Meanwhile, activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir appealed to people to verify news before sharing it.
"While atrocities with Christian & Hindu girls is a fact there are miscreants out there who exploit issues for funding fraud purposes & hurt the cause/case of so many," he said.