Includes appeal for follow up action.


Urgent Appeal

9 January 2007
UA-008-2007: PAKISTAN: Another Hindu girl forcibly converted to Islam after being abducted

PAKISTAN: Forced conversion of religion; illegal minor marriage; no protection for religious minorities; abduction; particularity of the judiciary and local administration on the violation of the religious minority's rights; impunity; un-rule of law  

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received the information that a 17-year-old Hindu girl, Deepa has been missing since she was abducted by her Muslim tuition teacher on 31 December 2006. It is alleged that she was forcibly converted to Muslim and married to the said teacher. It is also reported that the local police and politicians are preventing the girl's family from lodging a complaint with the police station regarding the incident, as influential local figures are behind this incident. The AHRC notes with great concern that abducting young girls from religious minorities and forcibly converting them to Islam are a common feature in Pakistan. These crimes are being committed without hindrance due to the indifference of the local authorities.  


Seventeen-year-old Deepa is the daughter of Mr. Besham Das and a resident of Madhwani Mohala, Rail road, Islam Kot, Tharparkar district, Sindh province, Pakistan. After her matriculation, Deepa was having tuition with a teacher namely Mr. Ashraf Khaskheli, a young Muslim man who is also a seminary teacher at Madrasa Khanqah Gulzar-e-Khalil, Samaro town, Tharparkar district. 

On 31 December 2006, Deepa left her house to have tuition and failed to return. At 7:00pm in the evening her parents went to Mr. Ashraf's house to inquire about their daughter. They were told that Mr. Ashraf had taken her to the Khanqah Gulzar-e-Khalil Madressa seminary in Samaro town and married her after converting her to Islam. Deepa remains missing since then. 

It is alleged that the owner of the seminary Mr. Ayube Jan Sarhandi has provided shelter to Mr. Ashraf and Deepa. When he was contacted by the AHRC staff, Mr. Ayube Jan Sarhandi said that Mr. Ashraf came to him with Deepa in the late evening of December 31 and he converted Deepa to Islam because she had agreed. He then issued a certificate of his seminary that Deepa has become Muslim and provided a car for their safe journey to place of their own choice.

Tharparker district is the electoral constituency of the sitting chief minister of Sindh province and Mr. Ayube Jan Sarhandi is an influential man in the province as he has good political connections with government officials.  

However, Deepa's parents and the local Hindu community worry that Deepa might have been forced to converted to Islam and married Mr. Ashraf after being abducted because this is a common situation in the area. The girl's parents and neighbors also say that they did not see any sign that there had been a love affair between Deepa and Mr. Ashraf. They further argue that if Deepa had married Mr. Ashraf voluntarily he could have brought Deepa to his house quite openly.  However, instead her whereabouts are unknown to date. They also argue that marriage of a minor is still illegal according to law.   

According to Hindu religious community in Tharparkar district where a good population of the Hindu religious community resides some Muslim seminaries in the district are provoking young Muslims to convert Hindu girls to Islam as it is equal to Haj-e-Akbari, the highest Islamic religious duty. Mr. Amar Nath, the president of Hindu Panchayat, Karachi, also reported that more than 15 families are forcibly converted to Muslims in Sindh province every year through kidnapping Hindu young girls. By converting them to Islam the abductors are rewarded with marriage to the kidnapped girls.

Meanwhile, the Banay police have refused to register the complaint regarding this case allegedly because powerful persons are involved. Instead of taking action against Mr. Ashraf according to law, Mr. Arbab Zakaullah, the uncle of the chief minister of the Sindh province and Mr. Kishan Chand, the advisor to the chief minister on minority affairs also requested Deepa's family not to lodge the case of abduction and forced conversion of the religion against Mr. Ashraf with the police. They promised that they would try their best to obtain Deepa's release. As a result, the case has not been registered with the police.


It has become a common practice in Pakistan that some Muslim seminaries are encouraging the young men to convert non Muslim minorities to Islam. The young people generally kidnap the young girls of non Muslims and rape them. In cases where they are later arrested by the police, they produce a certificate issued by any Muslim seminary that the kidnapped girls have adopted Islam and that they married the girls. Many of these girls are minor. However, the courts generally do not consider this fact and simply accept the certificate as legitimate.

For example, a 15-year-old Pooja living in Chaki Wara, Lyari town, Karachi was abducted by two Muslim men namely Mr. Iqbal and Arshad with the help of Mr. Iqbal's sister on 23 July 2006. A First Investigation Report (FIR) number 232/2006 was lodged at the Chakiwara police station on July 25 and she was found on the same day. The medical examination, which was conducted on July 27, revealed that Pooja was raped. But on July 27 a certificate issued by a seminary called Darul Amjadia was produced before the court of the 10th Judicial Magistrate, Karachi declaring that the girl has converted to Islam. On December 19, the court accepted the certificate and released Pooja from jail and did not allow her family to take her. As soon as she was released, Pooja was kidnapped again by the same persons and her whereabouts remain unknown. The court also did not consider that Pooja is a minor. According to Pakistani laws, marriage of a girl below 18 years is prohibited and particularly Section 2 of Juvenile ordinance 2002 states that a person below 18 years is considered a child.

In another case, a 16-year-old Hindu Komal living in Hawks bay, Karachi was abducted 2 August 2006 and forcibly converted to Islam. She remains missing since then. The victim's lawyer Mr. Amar Nath, who is the president of Hindu Panchayat Karachi, says that the Hawks Bay police have been refusing to register the complaint regarding this case allegedly because the powerful seminary is behind the abductors.

Please also refer our previous urgent appeal regarding the failure of the police and the judiciary in to the abduction of three Hindu sisters who have been forcibly converted to Islam: UG-020-2006.

Please immediately write to the relevant authorities listed below and urge them to launch an immediate and full inquiry into this serious case. Please also urge them to locate the victim and ensure that she is released without further delay and take action against the alleged abductors. Please also the Government of Pakistan to take genuine action to prohibit such brutal practice against the religious minorities and protect the rights of children. 


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