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Hindus in Pakistan complain of forced conversions of their teenage daughters (Video)

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Photo: topyaps.com

Hindu minorities in Pakistan have continuously suffered oppression and discrimination at the hands of Muslim majority. Pakistani Hindus have time and again complained about their plight and many have migrated into India. NewsGram brings you this latest video of Voice of America, which documents how Hindu teenage girls are forcibly converted in Pakistan.

Also Read: Hindu minorities continue to face discrimination in Pakistan

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Abducted and Converted : 20 Year Old Hindu Girl Arti Kumari Sharma Falls Victim to Jihadis in Sindh, Pakistan

Arti’s case is not the first of its kind. Hundreds of Hindu girls are being kidnapped, raped and converted every month

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Hundreds of Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam annually. (representative image) Pixabay

Washington, DC, September 12, 2017 — The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has called for the immediate release of Arti Kumari Sharma, a 20 year-old Hindu woman who was kidnapped at gunpoint this past Saturday near her home in Khairpur District in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.

Arti’s uncle, Kishwar Sharma, a Houston resident and native of Pakistan, recently escaped religious persecution in Pakistan to immigrate to the US.

“I am deeply distraught to find out my niece was kidnapped at gunpoint near her house,” said Sharma. “Arti is engaged to be married in November and is the second girl to be kidnapped in my family.”

Arti, a teacher at Qasim Model School, was abducted on her way home by a Muslim landlord, Ammer Wassan, taken to a local mosque where she was forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will to a man named Amir Bux. She was also reportedly coerced into signing an affidavit claiming that she married Bux and converted out of her own free will.

Despite her family filing a First Information Report with local police, Arti has not been allowed to return home and will be brought before the Sindh High Court on September 12.

Arti Kumari
Arti Kumari Sharma. Twiter

“Arti’s basic civil rights and freedom have been flagrantly violated, in contradiction of Pakistani law and international human rights law,” said Rishi Bhutada, HAF Board Member and Houston resident. “We urge the Sindh High Court to order the immediate release and safe return of Arti to her family.”

Many NGOs and human rights groups, including Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, have estimated that more than 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam annually. The courts and legal system in Pakistan are often complicit in sanctioning this practice by accepting false documents and statements obtained through force, threats, or coercion.

The Foundation has extensively documented this trend and other human rights violations against Pakistani Hindus in its annual human rights report, Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights, 2017.

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Pakistani Hindus daughters relinquish to forced Muslim marriages

Last year, the legislature in Southern province of Sindh passed a legislation that outlawed the forced conversion of those below age 18, but it never came into effect

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Pakistani Hindus
Representational Image

Lahore, Feb 28, 2017: Last spring, Anila Dhawan was abducted from her home in Hyderabad, Pakistan. She was forced to marry the abductor and convert to Islam.

The police refused to step in. Her abductor stated that Voluntarily, the girl had eloped from home, converted into Islam and married him. But post her family mounting pressure on the court, she spoke the truth to the judges and she was freed.

“Her life was threatened,” her attorney, Ramesh Gupta, stated. “She wanted to go back to her parents and the statement (she made to the court) helped to sway the decision in her favor and she was freed to join her family.”

Anila is among those Pakistani Hindu girls who are abducted due to draconian religious discrimination in a country that comprises of 98 per cent Muslim majority.

According to South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, a local human rights group, every year, it is estimated muslim men abduct about 1000 girls of Christianity and Hinduism faith but mostly Hindu girls. According to Pakistan Hindu Council, about 5000 Pakistani Hindus flee to neighbouring country India where 80 per cent population practises Hinduism. They flee to evade the religious persecution and discrimination.

Last year, the legislature in Southern province of Sindh (where the Kohlis reside) passed a legislation that outlawed the forced conversion of those below age 18, but it never came into effect. Conservative Islamic factions and groups objected to this measure and criticised the 5 years imprisonment on those who were guilty of forcing conversion. They produced the rationale that the law was ‘anti-Islamic’ and an endeavour to make Pakistan a secular country.

“We will not remain silent on this controversial law,” said Hafiz Saeed, a leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a self-proclaimed charity that the United States has declared a terrorist group.

In January the measure was vetoed by Sindh government. The legislative defeat was a major let down to human rights, activists stated.

“The problem of conversions is real,” said Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a mewmber of the Pakistan Hindu Council and parliament. “We are not against the conversion of religion as a result of research or preaching. But why are only underage Hindu girls in Sindh changing religion?”

For instance, last summer’s night, Ameri Kashi Kohli’s 14-year-old daughter was abducted from her home while she was sleeping in Southern Pakistan.

It was a harrowing experience for her when she discovered what happened to her daughter.  “She had been converted to Islam and became the second wife of our landlord,” Kohli stated. Her landlord falsely claimed that the teen was compensation for a $1,000 debt the family owed him.

On top of that, the police refused to intervene. “They just said forget your daughter, she has converted,” Kohli described. They said “my daughter Jeevti is now known as Fatima.”

The defeat of the bill exhibited that religious conservatives have considerable power in the country.

“Government after government, military and civilian, have caved in to pressure from the extremists,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., who specialises in Pakistan’s minorities. “It is imperative for the government to stand by the people it represents. The bill to stop enforced conversion must be passed unaltered.”

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She said that the muslim leaders are critical of new protections extended to religious minorities and woman to and safeguarding them, especially women.

As per Kohli, she says she has lost her daughter. The landlord produced an affidavit from the teen and claimed that she was neither forced to convert nor marry and she ran away voluntarily. The parents claim she was forced to write this. As per Husband’s wishes, she was not allowed to meet her family or friends.

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Kohli stated that the plight of her daughter speaks volume about the uncertain future of Hindus in Pakistan.

“There (are) many Fatimas in this country,” Kohli stated. “But does this country have place for a Jeevti?”

Many stories dealing with such appalling and gruesome stature come across in Pakistan but no action is taken to prevent this social evil.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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What’s it Like to be a Pakistani Hindu? This Quora Answer Shows the Harsh Reality

The foundation of Freedom is Unity- Oliver Kemper

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Representational image. Pixabay

December 22, 2016: “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” But some people always try to push society into conflict. They try to inflict their spurious agendas in the community.

Some people have the power to bring change in the society, both in good as well as bad ways. But some people choose religion to benefit their evil schemes.

According to the constitution of Pakistan, all citizens are equal. But the incidents of hate crimes go against it. Hindus are not permitted to perform rituals on the land of their ancestors. It is the end of 2016. It’s time that people of all the religion, caste and creed walk freely with their heads held high.

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Below is an answer to a thread in Quora that asked: “What Does it feel like to be a Pakistani Hindu?

By Ravi Ahuja:

My answer might offend some people, but I won’t answer anonymously. I will try my best to explain my experience as a Pakistani Hindu.

To be really honest, deep inside, I feel really bad.

Before the partition, we were all Hindustani. At the time of partition, our parents decided to live in Pakistan rather than India. Why they chose Pakistan over India is another debate, but I am sure that they were unaware of the price they and their descendants would pay for this decision.

I have to say that, despite being calm, non-violent and educated citizens, we are not completely owned by the Pakistani people. Yet we are targeted the most in the region. From school life to getting a job, I experienced such discrimination that I can conclude we are not recognized by the Pakistani people yet.

When I was in school, for the first half an hour students were expected to recite the Quran. Instead of giving us a Hindu religion book to read or something, teachers used to ask us to read the Quran as well. If we couldn’t read, then we were expected to listen to the others very carefully. As a child of 3rd or 4th standard (8-10 years), we couldn’t argue with a teacher. At that time, we didn’t have the sense to figure out our rights were violated. We just did whatever they instructed us to do.

As I grew older and went to high school, the situation worsened. In high schools, we used to study Islamiat as a subject and the teacher used to call Hindus, ‘Kafir’ (infidel). We were told Islam was the only mature religion in the world.

The journey from school to university wasn’t easy when people made you feel that your religion was worthless and that you were going to Hell anyway. Therefore, students and teachers made attempts to get us to join their religion (and therefore lead a prosperous life). Not only that but, people made fun of the way Hindus practice religion. They mocked our religion.

When it came to celebrating festivals, they became even more intolerant. Diwali is a sacred Hindu celebration- like Christmas for Christians and Ramadan for Muslims. I witnessed several occasions where the town government used to gave us a warning for celebrating Diwali. I don’t understand what prevented them from letting people of other religions be happy.

Another issue that a lot of Pakistani people face is ‘Blasphemy ‘. However, only Muslims have the power to use this word against other religions. If anyone dares to speak against Islam, then he/she will be stoned to death. But, no one cares if you speak against Hinduism, Christians or torch their temples or holy books.

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One serious issues for Pakistani Hindus-especially women- is that they get kidnapped, converted to Islam and forcibly married. After that, the girl is sold to third parties.

No one dares to speak against this barbaric practice. Some people back the so-called religious leaders and as no one takes a stand against it.

However, if a Hindu guy even thought about such a thing for a Muslim girl, then he and his family would be slaughtered instantly.

I know of one such incident. The guy and the girl were in love and about to get married. Both of them desired the marriage and were looking forward to it.

You know what happened next?

The girl’s family became aware of this . They killed the boy’s whole family and buried the boy alive in the town near Sukkur, Sindh.

We are part of a country that says everyone has the equal rights, but in reality that is not the case . Even the Pakistan’s 1973 constitution, forbids a person from a minority (Hindu, Christian, Jew and others ) to become Prime Minister or President.

If the government doesn’t recognize and accept us as entirely Pakistani, then how can we expect this from ordinary citizens?

I just do not understand one thing: why are people so intolerant? Why can’t they just let other people do what they want to do?

I am not pointing fingers, but we are part of the country as well.

People disrespect our religion but we don’t react by killing those people. After all, who are we to decide what is wrong and what is right?

I believe, every Hindu Pakistani goes through similar situations. Some grin and bear it but others migrate to India. This is why the Hindu population has gone down sharply from 17% (at time of Partition) to around 2 -3%.

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I was born in Pakistan and spent 24 years of my life there. After that I moved to Australia. My family still lives in Pakistan and I visit them once in a year.

But I need to say this: In spite of all of this, I am pro-Pakistani. Deep down in my heart I love Pakistan.

I always support the Pakistan team and, I love to watch the when they beat India, specially. My favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. My favourite hockey team is the Pakistani one.

I am proud when any Pakistani makes us proud internationally and I argue with people who speak against Pakistan.
I have accepted Pakistan as my country through and through.

Unfortunately, the way people treat us is unacceptable.

I do not know how far we have to go to prove that we belong and for you guys to accept us as fully Pakistani.

by NewsGram team