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Girls' abduction in Sindh: India raises issue with Pak

Girls abduction in Sindh: India raises issue with Pak

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New Delhi: India on Sunday raised with Pakistan an incident of alleged abduction of two Hindu teenaged girls and their forcible conversion to Islam in Sindh province even as a war of words broke out between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary over the issue.

Offcial sources said India issued a note verbale -- a diplomatic communication -- to Pakistan, sharing its concerns over the incident and called for suitable remedial action to protect and promote safety, security and welfare of people from the minority communities.

In a tweet, Swaraj said she has sought a report from Indian envoy in Pakistan Ajay Bisaria on the incident. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has already ordered a probe into it.

According to Pakistani media reports, Reena and Raveena, hailing from village Hafiz Salman near the town of Daharki in Sindh, were kidnapped and forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam on March 20, before being married to Muslim men.

Separately, there were Pakistani media reports of abduction and forced conversion of another minor Hindu girl, Shania from Mirpurkhas in Sindh, sources said.

Both girls have been taken to Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab to avoid their arrest by Sindh Police, they said quoting latest reports.

Responding to Swaraj's tweet asking the Indian envoy to send a report on the incident, Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: "Maam its Pakistan's internal issue and (be) rest assured it's not Modi's India where minorities are subjugated, it's Imran Khan's Naya Pak where white colour of our flag is equally dearer to us." 

"I hope you'll act with same diligence when it comes to rights of Indian minorities," he said.

Swaraj, in her response to Chaudhry, said she had only asked for a report from the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad about the kidnapping and forced conversion of two minor Hindu girls to Islam.

"This was enough to make you jittery. This only shows your guilty conscience," she said.

This prompted Chaudhry to respond again.

"Madam Minister I am happy that in the Indian administration we have people who care for minority rights in other countries. I sincerely hope that your conscience will allow you to stand up for minorities at home as well. Gujarat and Jammu must weigh heavily on your soul," the Pakistani minister tweeted.

In a Twitter post in Urdu, Information Minister Chaudhry said the prime minister has asked the Sindh chief minister to look into reports that the girls in question have been taken to Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab.

A number of Pakistani human rights activists have claimed that it is another case of forced conversion and abduction, which are becoming increasingly common in the southern region of Sindh.

After kidnapping of the two girls, a purported video emerged showing that the underage girls accepted that they were converting to Islam with their own desire.

In another video, a Maulvi is seen explaining that the girls were living in an area which was surrounded by Muslims and the girls were inspired by the teachings of Islam and wanted to convert.

Sources quoting reports from Pakistan said an FIR of the incident was registered in Daharki Police Station on behalf of the victims' brother, Shaman Das, son of Hari Das Meghwar.

On 20 March, Das claimed that he was at home along with his family members when six persons, armed with pistols, entered their house, the sources said.

The complainant said that the six men took the family members hostage on gunpoint and took away the two girls.

According to media reports, the Hindu community in the area staged protests, demanding action against perpetrators of the alleged crime.

India has been raising the issue of plight of minorities, particularly the Hindu community in Pakistan.

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