A Muslim man named Wahid Bux Lashari brutally murdered a Hindu girl in southeastern Sindh after she purportedly turned down his hand in marriage. According to the local media, Wahid Bux Lashari wanted to convert the 18-year-old Pooja Kumari before marrying her. According to preliminary reports, Wahid Bux broke into her house in Ghotki and tried to abduct her. After Kumari resisted, Wahid opened fire on her and left, leaving her dead on the spot. Police have revealed that the prime suspect Wahud Bux has been arrested and was in their custody. The police further added that the suspect had admitted to murdering the 18-year-old.
Pooja’s family has taken to the streets to record their protest and demand strict action against the murderer. Netizens have taken to Twitter with many of them blaming the government for its lax control and a poor judicial system. This is not a stand-alone incident as Pakistan has a history of forced conversions. Many human rights activists have repeatedly called for stern action against such practices, but till now, the incidents have gone largely unnoticed. According to the human rights activist, hundreds and thousands of such cases occur in a year. The European Parliament Human Rights Commission on Pakistan 2019 report states that “more than 1 000 forced conversions take place every year.”
According to Dawn, “data from 2013 to 2020 show that the crime took place in all provinces and in all minority communities”. According to the report, at least 46 percent of the forced conversions were targeted against minor girls, and only 16 percent of females were above the age of 18 years.
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According to a report by ANI, the overall population of the Hindu community is approximately 1.6 percent, whereas in terms of the provincial demographic of the Hindu community, it’s prevalent mainly in Sindh, with the Hindu community making up 6.5 percent of the total population of the province.
Pakistan has made several attempts to protect minority rights. Last year an Anti-forced conversion bill was also presented in the assembly, only to be met by an unapologetic opposition. Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadr, during the discussion, said that the bill would “create further problems for minorities”. Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed also opposed the bill and said that “This bill is anti-Islam,”
Following the rejection of the bill in the lower house, the NCRC, on March 02, 2022, launched its first seminal policy brief on forced conversions – signaling the Commission and the government’s commitment to addressing the longstanding issue of forced conversions.
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Arzoo conversion case:
Arzoo Raja, a Christian girl in her early teens, was abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to a 44-year-old man. The man was later tried for rape under the Sindh government’s underage marriage act. A case was also filed against the cleric who held the marriage proceedings. Arzoo’s kidnapping led to country-wide protests from human rights groups and activists.