Six people have been arrested after Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered the Punjab government to investigate the matter of two underage Hindu girls who their family claims were forcibly converted and married to Muslim men in Rahim Yar Khan.
The police, however, said that the women converted and got married of their own free will. The sisters were kidnapped from Sindh and have been identified as Raveena and Reena.
Their family, which belongs to Ghokti’s Dharki, had registered an FIR over their kidnapping and forced marriage. The FIR identified the two girls to be 14 and 16 years.
No child under the age of 18 can be married under the Sindh Child Marriages Act, according to lawyer and social activist Jibran Nasir.
A video of their father protesting outside a police station has surfaced on social media. In the video, he refuses to move unless the police help him find his daughters.
Father of Raveena and Reena Hindu girls who held protest at police station.
“You can kill me, I had the patience, but now I won’t leave.”
I spoke to his son Shaman who said that “Madam – we are not citizen of Pakistan.” “The police kept changing statements.” pic.twitter.com/ODWfIalnyJ
— Veengas (@VeengasJ) March 23, 2019
The two young women, however, addressed a press conference recently in which a cleric said that they converted at Darga Barchundi Sharif of their own free will.
He said that their parents are engaging in “false propaganda”. They should be given protection. “They are our sisters now. As Muslims, it is our right to protect them,” he adds.
Copies of their nikkahnama have surfaced too. After conversion, Raveena was named Aasia Bibi and Reena was named Shahzia.
The young women have filed a petition seeking protection in a court in Bahawalpur. The court is expected to hear the case on March 25, Monday.
The premier wants Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to investigate the case and, if he finds that they were indeed forcibly converted and kidnapped, to have them rescued.
The premier has also told the Punjab and Sindh governments to take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. PM Khan said minorities make up the white in Pakistan’s flag and are very important. We must safeguard them, he said.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced this on Sunday morning via Twitter.
The Sindh chief minister’s adviser on law and information, Murtaza Wahab, took to Twitter to say that it is because of Sindh’s law banning underage marriages that the kidnappers took them to Punjab to contract the nikkah. The government of Sindh has sent a police team to Rahim Yar Khan and the team is there trying to arrest the culprits and recover the girls, he said, adding a few arrests and detentions have also taken place.