In a shocking decision, the Islamabad High Court permitted the ‘teenage’ Hindu Ghotki sisters to stay with their husbands. The Ghotki sisters were kidnapped, converted to Islam before being forcefully married according to initial reports.
A high court bench led by Chief Justice of IHC Athar Minallah made the decision in light of a five-member commission report in the alleged abduction, forced conversion and marriage of Reena and Raveena – two teenage Hindu girls from Sindh’ Ghotki district.
The girls and their spouses, Safdar Ali and Barkat Ali, had filed a petition seeking protection. In their plea, the girls maintained that they belong to a Hindu family of Ghotki, Sindh but converted willfully as they were impressed by Islamic teaching.
The incident came to light when a video surfaced online showing the teenagers’ father and brother claiming the girls were abducted and forcefully converted. It was followed by another video snippet in which the two girls claimed that they had converted to Islam. It was reported that the girls were moved from Sindh Ghotki district to Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab.
During the hearing, the interior secretary said that members of the commission, Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and National Commission on the Status of Women chairperson Khawar Mumtaz, held a meeting with the girls and their spouses separately.
“This is a sensitive matter and we probed it accordingly. The girls accepted Islam on their own to marry their lovers,” Mumtaz told court.
“This does not appear to be a forced conversion case. It seems like it has become a culture in the area,” said the interior secretary. “The medical tests proved the girls are adults aged 18 and 19.”
Taking notice of the incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed Sindh and Punjab to investigate the matter and recover the girls if the forceful conversion allegation was correct. He said the Sindh government had also submitted findings of a commission headed by DIG Sukkur and the commission sought a report from DCO Rahim Yar Khan.
Justice Minallah asked advocate IA Rahman, another member of the commission, his opinion. The lawyer advised regularising centres where the conversions take place. He lamented that there are no laws preventing forced conversions. The high court chief justice expressed confidence in parliament to legislate such matters. In light of the commission report, the bench allowed the girls to reunite with their husbands.