‘August 11 black day for many’

Forced conversions in Sindh highlighted in protest. PHOTO: FILE

Forced conversions in Sindh highlighted in protest. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Dozens of rights activists gathered at Charing Cross on Thursday to protest reports of forced conversion of Hindu women in Sindh. The demonstration was organised to coincide with the national Minorities Day. The protesters urged the government to protect Hindu women from forced conversions.

The protesters were carrying placards inscribed with appeals for their protection.

The protesters chanted slogans against Mian Minthu, who, they said, was involved in many forced conversions.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Amar Nath Randhawa, chairman of Hindu Sudhar Sabha, said, “Those involved in forced conversions are bringing a bad name to the country. They are making life difficult for the minority communities.”

“We are here to raise awareness about the problems of minority groups,” he said. “Thousands of Hindu families have fled to India. We must not allow religious bigotry to destroy those who live in Pakistan and are proud citizens of this country.”

Aroon Kumar Kundnani, another member of Hindu Sudhar Sabha, said Mian Mithu had been involved in several cases of forced conversion. “The government is not willing to take action against him. Forced conversions are not allowed in any religion. Yet the practice goes on in the name of religion,” he said.

He said Hindus in Pakistan were not safe. “The government should treat Hindus as citizens, not subjects.”

He said the chief justice of Pakistan should take suo motu action of the forced conversion complaints. He said legislation should be enacted to curb the practice. Saeeda Diep, executive director of the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, said, “It is unfortunate that a minority community is marking the national Minorities Day as a black day.” “It is strange that no Hindu man has been forced to convert. Why are Hindu girls targeted? They are kidnapped, detained for some days and then forced to make a statement before a magistrate about converting to Islam. They are then married to influential men.”

“In his August 11 address to the Constituent Assembly, the Quaid-i-Azam had said Pakistanis would be free to go their temples, mosques or any other place of worship. We dream of a Pakistan where there is no discrimination and no distinction between one community and another. We are all citizens.”

“Unfortunately, the Pakistani state had failed to protect its citizens.”

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1160484/august-11-black-day-many/