7 arrested after Hindu sisters ‘kidnapped, converted to Islam & married off’ in Pakistan
The girls, Raveena (16) and Reena (14), were allegedly abducted by a group of men from Pakistan's Sindh Province and forced into marriage, after converting to Islam against their will. A video which seemed to show a cleric performing the marriage later went viral online.
Video footage has also emerged of the girls’ father protesting outside a police station, saying he would not leave and that police were changing their statements.
The high-level verbal sparring began on Sunday with the intervention of India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who tweeted that she had asked India’s high commissioner in Islamabad for clarification on media reports about the girls’ kidnapping.
The tweet prompted a response from Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who said the case was an “internal issue” and added that he hopes Swaraj will act “with same diligence when it comes to rights of Indian Minorities.”
The back and forth continued, with Swaraj accusing Chaudhry of feeling “jittery” and harboring a “guilty conscience.” During a press conference later, Chaudhry brought up religious riots which occurred in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. Pakistan has accused India of human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state.
Police were accused online of being dismissive of the girls' case after they sought protection, although they later investigated and made arrests. So far, police have not named the seven people arrested for their roles in the kidnapping, however.
A source at the Indian foreign ministry cited three other instances of Hindu or Sikh girls in Pakistan being forced to marry and convert to Islam during the past two years and said that India has, on more than one occasion, raised the issue of “intimidation” of Hindus and Sikhs at their places of worship.
Pakistan-based activist M. Jibran Nasir tweeted a video of the two girls claiming that they accepted Islam, but said police could not ignore that they were underage, illegally married and could both be "under immense pressure.”
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