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Pak panel for special cell to probe Hindu women abduction

By Rezaul H Laskar
March 17, 2012 00:47 IST
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A Pakistani parliamentary panel on Friday directed police and other authorities in southern Sindh province to register cases on the kidnapping of Hindu women and to create a special cell to investigate such incidents.

The directives were issued by the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the national assembly or lower house of parliament following a meeting at which lawmakers took up the issue of kidnapping and forced conversion of Hindu women.

The supreme court recently directed authorities to produce three Hindu women who were allegedly kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam by March 26.

Two of the women, Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kuamri, have said in statements recorded in court that they had voluntarily converted and married Muslim men.

Lower courts in Karachi directed authorities to hold Rinkle and Lata in a state-run women's home till they are produced in the supreme court.

The Standing Committee on Human Rights said the Sindh police chief and the provincial home secretary should register "all kind of cases" on the kidnapping of Hindu women.

The panel ordered authorities to establish a special cell under a DIG to investigate the abduction of Hindu women.

The panel chaired by parliamentarian Riaz Fatyana further directed the additional chief secretary of Sindh's home department to shift Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari by air from Karachi to Islamabad to the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Safe House for Women by March 19 after consulting the Sindh high court.

Authorities should ensure complete security for the two women during their journey to Islamabad, the committee said.

The panel also constituted a sub-committee under lawmaker Araish Kumar to address the concerns of the Hindu community regarding cases of kidnapping.

The panel said police check posts should be established at places where minority communities felt unsafe.

The committee further directed the interior ministry to establish a special cell to take measures for the security of minority communities.

It also directed authorities to write letters to the chief secretaries of all provinces to remove any material in the educational syllabus that reflects religious prejudice.

The standing committee on human rights took up the issue of abduction of Hindu women a day after members of the national assembly expressed concern over the phenomenon.

Lal Chand, a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan People's Party from Sindh, raised the issue in the house on Thursday and other members supported his demand for action to protect non-Muslim minorities.

The most forceful condemnation of the abduction and conversion of Hindu women came from Azra Fazal Pechuho, the sister of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Pechuho said Hindu women were being kept in madrassas for indoctrination before being married off to Muslims.

Sindh and Balochistan provinces have sizeable Hindu populations. The minority community makes up less than three per cent of Pakistan's total population of about 180 million.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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