PAKISTAN: A Hindu girl has been abducted by a landlord and forcibly converted to Islam; the authorities have refused to intervene.
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-047-2010 18 April 2010 PAKISTAN: A Hindu girl has been abducted by a landlord and forcibly converted to Islam; the authorities have refused to intervene. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about the abduction of a 15-year-old Hindu girl in October last year. Police and state officials refused to look into the case. After the victim was found in captivity with her parents' employer – a local landlord – they were told that she had married and converted to Islam, however they were not able to speak with her alone and she has since disappeared again without trace. There are extremely strong fears for her safety, and strong concerns that the Punjab authorities are indulging in extreme negligence of their duties to protect minors. CASE DETAILS: The following information was received from Hare Rama Foundation, an NGO working for the rights of religious minorities, and from the vice president of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony, an organization formed by the federal government. On October 16, 2009 the parents of Miss Gomti, 15, went to the house of their landlord’s house to ask about their daughter, who worked at the house as a domestic servant for a number of years. Her parents had not seen her since 12 October. They were told that she had left with the landlord two days earlier, but that he had not mentioned where he was taking her. Miss Gomti's parents are field workers in Ahmedpur Sharqiya, Bahawalpur, Punjab for the landlord, Mr. Asghar Ali. Gomti's father Bheeka Ram and his wife took the case to the Shahi wala police chowki (a sub-station of the Head Rajkan police station), but were simply told that she would likely be returned soon. The parents contacted Mr. Ramesh Jay Pal, the vice president of the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony in Punjab, which is an organization formed by the federal government. On 18 October 2009 he arranged a Punchayat, a meeting of representatives from different Muslim groups which resolved to find Gomti and try to help her. After about six weeks she was found with Asghar Ali at a village called Wali Ka Dera, in the Khanpur sub-district of Rahim Yar Khan, which is a remote place in the desert about 130km from the girl's home village. Ali told the Punchayat that Gomti had married one of his peasants, a Mr. Liaquat Ali, after converting to Islam however her alleged husband could not be produced. When Gomti was presented to the group by staff from the local seminary, her name had been changed to Sughra, a Muslim name. She appeared to not be aware of this change however. Gomti's parents claim that they were only able to meet her in the presence of employees of Asghar Ali. She appeared to be under pressure, and reportedly asked her parents to convert to Islam. The parents were not able to take her home with them and we are told that she has been missing from the village since February. Her marriage certificate claims that she is 19. According to the records of the Hare Rama Foundation, more than ten Hindu girls were abducted and forcibly converted in a similar style in 2009 and the issue is one that has been repeatedly highlighted by the National Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. __________________________________________________________________ The AHRC has written to Chairperson, Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief calling for their intervention in this case. ___________________________________________________________________ AHRC Website Link Includes Suggested Actions: ______________________________________________________________________ About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.