Hindus, Sikhs and Christians came out to protest the alleged forced conversion and marriage of a Hindu teenager from Mirpur Mathelo on Sunday in Karachi. PHOTO: EXPRESS
“Give us our Rinkle back. Give us the daughter of Sindh back,” demanded the relatives of the 17-year-old Hindu girl who was allegedly kidnapped, forced to convert and married to a Muslim boy last month.
Rinkle Kumari’s relatives came from Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district and staged a protest outside the Karachi press club on Sunday. Christians and Sikhs came out in support.
The protesters wore black armbands and held aloft well-written handmade posters saying ‘Where should we go?’ and ‘Send Rinkle to a Karachi women’s shelter’. They kept up a chant demanding her ‘release’. One of her maternal uncles, Raj Kumar, said furiously, “Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Mian Abdul Haq and his men abducted our daughter at gunpoint. We want justice.”
The family claims that Rinkle was kidnapped from her home in Mirpur Mathelo by Haq’s men on the night of February 24. She was then taken to Bharchundi Sharif, where Naveed Shah, a supporter of the politician, forced her to convert to Islam and married her, albeit without her consent, they say.
On February 25, the family says, Rinkle refused to go back with the kidnappers while recording her statement in court. But, they say, the court ignored her statement and decided in favour of the other party when it announced its decision two days later.
“We were not allowed to attend the proceedings when the judgment was passed,” said Kumar. “The judge conducted the hearing an hour before the official court timings and he passed the judgment in only half an hour.”
Enraged youngsters from Rinkle’s hometown demanded justice and said that she should be presented before a court again or be sent to a darul aman till a court takes a decision. They said that the chief justice of Pakistan should take suo motu notice in this case.
Another relative, Ravi Kumar, said that videos were uploaded on YouTube in which Haq’s men were seen to be celebrating by firing in the air. He said that the forced conversion of Hindu girls was common in Sindh’s countryside, with around 20 cases being reported every month.
Another supporter, Daya Ram, said that initially the police was not even ready to register an FIR. It was only after a two-hour protest on the Super Highway that the police relented and registered a case.
While parliamentarians from the ruling party did not pay heed to the protest, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement parliamentarian, Munawar Lal, came to show his support to the family. He said that he would walk out of the Sindh Assembly if Rinkle is not returned to her family. “We are tired of picking the bodies of our children, and seeing our women being taken away by criminals,” he declared as people behind him shouted ‘Nai chalay gee, nai chalay gee, ghunda gardhi nai chalay gee.’ It won’t be tolerated, this won’t be tolerated, this hooliganism won’t be tolerated.
“Is this the same Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam and our people struggled for?” he asked.
Ramesh Kumar, the father of a 28-year-old doctor, Lata Kumari, who was kidnapped last week from DHA’s Phase II, was at the protest. Lata was on her way to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan.
The patron of Pakistan Hindu Council, Ramesh Kumar stressed that Hindus were peace-loving people. “But sadly these conversions, kidnappings and extortions every day make our lives miserable.”
Sardar Ramesh Singh pitched in by saying that no religion allowed their followers to convert others by force. “Even Islam does not allow it. Then, how can its followers indulge in such wrongdoing?”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.