The “mass migration of Hindus [from Pakistan] is inevitable,” declared a resolution adopted by the Pakistan Hindu Council at a hotel in Karachi on Sunday.
The largest Hindu gathering in Karachi in recent history, the conference drew together 400 Hindu leaders to condemn the ongoing kidnapping, forced conversions to Islam, and the forced marriage to Muslim men, of Hindu girls in Pakistan.
Kalpana Devi, who attended the conference, said that “the lava of oppression was burning for years; Rinkle Kumari’s case was the tipping point for us, and it brought the whole Hindu community together,” reports The International News. Kumari, now 18, was allegedly kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry a young Muslim man.
At a recent court appearance Kumari said she converted willingly, but was unable to recite any sura. She also acknowledged that she had never met her husband, and did not know him, before she was married to him.
“We don’t have any issues with a person who converts to another faith out of free will,” Kalpana Devi, the vice-president of the Larkana Bar Association said, during the conference, “but when someone is kidnapped and converted, it is difficult to keep quiet.”
Although there are several such kidnappings of Hindu girls each month in the province of Sindh alone, the Kumari case spurred the Pakistan Hindu Council into action, probably partly because of the alleged involvement of a member of the Sindh national assembly. This is the first time ever that Hindus have taken to the streets to protest in Pakistan.
The Hindustan Times reports today that a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has ordered police officers to escort Rinkle Kumari and, another alleged kidnap victim, Lata Kumai, to the Panah women’s shelter in Karachi. The court wants the young women to be free of pressure, so that they can decide their own futures.