Members Of Hindu Community Protest Against Forced Conversions
A protest demonstration was held outside Karachi Press Club where the demonstrators called for the declaration and legitimization of religious minorities as equal citizens.
The demonstration was organized by the Hindu community of Sindh against the conversion of Hindu girls to Islam and the discrimination that religious minorities in Pakistan face.
The demonstrators consisted largely of Hindus along with a few Christians and Muslims. The protesters displayed pictures of Payal Kumari, Moomal, Shanoo, Reveena, Reena, Pooja Kumari, Rinkle, Pooja Menghwar and Vidhya; all of them alleged victims of forced conversions.
Protesters told Naya Daur that forced conversions in Sindh accelerated during the first half of the current year.
The issue of forced conversions has also been raised in the Sindh assembly, which denounced forced conversions in the province on the 10th of July through a resolution moved by Nand Kumar Goklani, a Sindh Assembly member on a reserved seat.
Goklani had claimed that as many as 41 Hindu girls had been converted forcibly in the first half of July only.
Moreover, a social activist, Raj Kumar Wanjara, told Naya Daur, “Nobody is ready to hear our agony.”
Raj Kumar’s niece, Rinkle Kumari, had been converted to Islam in 2012.
Raj Kumar said that interfaith marriages were the only way to stop forced conversion because there was no other option to deal with this matter as even the Sindh assembly had failed to put a stop to this.
“We are unsafe, even our young men are unsafe as they also face sexual harassment in Pakistan,” Kumar said.
Raj Kumar also stated that the Hindu community was under the belief that forced conversion was part of the doctrine to eliminate Hindus from Pakistan and this plan went back 70 years. He added that this scheme was launched before partition but failed to eliminate the Hindus. “We are the sons of soil,” he concluded.
The social activist added that the constitution guaranteed equal rights to all citizens of the country. Furthermore, he objected to the constitutional bar on Non-Muslims that does not allow them to be sworn in as the head of state and government in Pakistan. He added that even Red Indians and aboriginals had the constitutional right to become the head of state.
According to a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the University of Birmingham, an estimated 1000 women and girls of religious minorities are abducted and converted to Islam every year, with the abductees being forced to marry their abductors or a third party.
A religious scholar, Ayoob Jan Sarhendi, while talking to Naya Daur, said that there was no coercion in Islam and forceful tactics were not used for conversion. He added that forced conversions were against the teaching of Islam. The said scholar is alleged to be behind the forcible conversions of minority members in south-eastern part of Sindh.
Sarhendi said that all the allegations against him were baseless and that he only provided legal support to those who willfully agreed to convert.
The religious scholar was of the belief that those who were against conversion were agents of RAW and other foreign agencies.
Regarding interfaith marriages, he said that such marriages were not possible as they were against principles of Islam and in case an attempt is made to legitimize them, he would lead protests against the act.
Meanwhile, Barrister Ghulam Mustafa told Naya Daur that no law in Pakistan guaranteed interfaith marriage but it was the ultimate solution. He added that interfaith marriages were exercised in many multi-religious states.