Forced To Convert

Pakistan was born with the promise that everyone was free to practice their religion and would be guaranteed basic rights. Hindus that made up 23 percent of the population of Pakistan at the time of partition, are now only 6 percent, and in general do not feel welcome or secure. Abductions, forced conversions and marriages have pushed the community, which was once a centre part of life in Pakistan, to the margins.

The majority of the Hindu population is settled in Sindh and the province has witnessed a rise in crimes targeting the religious minority. Hindu girls are specifically targeted to convert them to Islam. According to a report by Movement for Solidarity and Peace, 1000 non-Muslim girls are converted to Islam every year in Pakistan. While in Sindh, the ratio is 20 or more girls per month. This is resulting in the migration of 5000 Hindu families from Pakistan to India per year. The issue was raised by the Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), Dr Ramesh Kumar who argues that religious pressure groups promote hate mongering in the region and create enough pressure to stop anyone from taking any action.

The crime against Hindu girls is inhumane and cruel. Hindu girls are kidnapped and held long enough for the conversion to be finalised. In the meantime, the police refuses to take any action, and after a couple of days the girl is brought back with legal documents of conversion. This ensures the legal cover to avoid being punished by law. To add insult to injury, the Sindh assembly has also returned the bill that was unanimously passed by the Sindh assembly to guarantee protection of minorities.

The PHC under such circumstances has demanded suo moto action against the instances and to punish criminals under the blasphemy law eradicate such crimes, and with a rigid society and inefficient parliament, the Supreme Court often seems like the only hope. It is the job of the federal government and provincial governments to stem forced conversions, and inspire confidence and trust in Hindu communities, which it is failing to do.

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