Hindu girl forced to convert, held in Pak madrassa: Minister

via http://news.rediff.com/report/2010/apr/23/hindu-girl-forced-to-convert-held-in-pak-madrassa.htm published on April 24, 2010

A Hindu girl from Punjab [ Images ] province was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and is currently being held in a madrassa, leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney said on Friday.

Burney said his rights organisation, the Ansar Burney trust international, had learnt that 15-year-old Gajri, the daughter of Mengha Ram, was abducted by a Muslim neighbour from her home at Katchi Mandi, Liaquatpur, in Rahim Yar Khan district on December 21, 2009.

Gajri’s parents later found out that she was being held captive in a madrassa in southern Punjab and that she had been married and converted to Islam, Burney said.

The local administration is refusing to respond to the abduction of the girl, who is not being allowed to leave the madrassa or to speak to her parents, he said.

Burney, a former human rights minister, condemned the forceful conversion of the Hindu girl and demanded her immediate release.

“Pakistan is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which oblige authorities to protect religious minorities under international law,” he said.

According to the Ansar Burney Trust, on 21 December 2009, Gajri disappeared from the home of her Hindu parents in southern Punjab.

On December 26 last year, the local police station received a letter with an affidavit from the madrassa that said she had “embraced Islam and had married her neighbour Mohammad Salim”, Burney said. The letter did not enclose a marriage certificate, he said.

The police did not immediately inform Gajri’s parents about the letter even though they had tried to file a first information report after she had gone missing. The parents were discouraged from doing so by the police, Burney said.

Mengha Ram and his wife then contacted Ramesh Jay Pal,  vice president of the national peace committee for interfaith harmony.

With his help, the parents met the priest in charge of Darul-Uloom Madrassa in Khanpur, Maulana Abdul Hafeez.

Hafeez reportedly told the parents that Gajri had ’embraced Islam’ and she was not allowed to meet her parents.

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