Pakistani Hindu girls (center) who were allegedly abducted and forced to convert to Islam. (Video grab)
The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday ordered Pakistani government to ensure the protection and take over the custody of the two underage Hindu girls, who were allegedly forcefully converted to Islam and married to Muslim men on the eve of Holi, according to local media reports. The court was hearing a petition filed by the girls and their spouses Safdar Ali and Barkat Ali seeking protection from adverse action. As per the petition, the girls converted because they were impressed by Islamic teachings and didn’t inform their parents out of fear.
Hearing the petition, the judge said, "This is an extremely sensitive issue, Pakistan's respect is joined to it. Ensuring the rights of minorities is our responsibility."
A government representative told the court that the inquiry will be completed within a week. On this, the court ordered deputy commissioner (DC) of Islamabad to take over the custody of the girls and ensure their safety.
"Until the final report is submitted, they will remain your guests. Even if the girls are placed in a shelter home, the federal government must ensure their protection. A district and sessions judge will be appointed a guardian in this case," the judge said.
Earlier in the day, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday asked Pakistan to safely return the minor Hindu girls to their family, citing that the girls are minor, therefore, can’t decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage.
"The age of the girls is not disputed. Raveena is only 13 and Reena is 15 years old. Even the Prime Minister on Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage. Justice demands that both these girls should be restored to their family immediately," she said.