Islamabad: A Pakistani high court Thursday declared that the two Hindu teenage sisters Raveena (13) and Reena (15) were not forcibly converted from Hinduism to Islam, and permitted them to live with their spouses, according the ‘Dawn’ newspaper here.
The two girls and their spouses petitioned the Islamabad High Court, March 25 against alleged harassment by police days after their father and brother alleged that they were underage, abducted, forced into changing their religion, and then married off to Muslim men.
In their plea, the girls claimed that they belong to a Hindu family of Ghotki, Sindh but converted willfully as they were impressed by Islamic teaching. The counsel for the girls’ parents, however, asserted that the case pertained to forced conversion.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah constituted a five-member commission to probe whether the conversion of the Hindu sisters to Islam was forced or otherwise. The panel found that the girls were not forcibly converted after an enquiry.
The Secretary to the Interior Minister of Pakistan, Azam Suleman, apprised the High Court about the findings of the commission, and told the court that as per the panel’s opinion, it was a facilitated conversion, the report said.
Minallah remarked that the case of the Ghotki sisters was a simple one and would have been decided in a day or so, but a commission comprising eminent professionals and scholars was constituted keeping in view the sensitivity of the case since ‘the court wanted to ensure this was not a forced conversion’.
Regarding the issue of forced conversions, the court sought the commission’s recommendations within four weeks and adjourned the case until May 14.
The teenage sisters were allegedly kidnapped by a group of ‘influential’ men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also ordered probe to ascertain if the two girls were abducted and forcibly converted and married.
It should be mentioned here that the Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan. According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province.