Sushma asks report on abduction of Hindu sisters in Sindh, Pakistan retorts

According to available reports two sisters Raveena (13) and Rina (15) were abducted and forced to undergo religious conversion.

March 24, 2019 10:32 am | Updated March 25, 2019 12:08 am IST - New Delhi:

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on the abduction of two sisters from the minority Hindu community in Pakistan snowballed into an online spat on Sunday after strong responses from Islamabad. 

India followed the Minister’s statement with a rare note of protest, citing widespread incidents of forced conversion of Hindu women in parts of Pakistan. 

Radio Pakistan later reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered an immediate investigation. 

The incident was taken up by social media in Pakistan with videos showing the father of the girls protesting at a police station in Sindh. Subsequent videos showed the girls begging to be saved from captivity after they were taken away by goons during Holi. Responding to a news release, Ms. Swaraj said, “I have asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report.” 

This drew a quick response from Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry, who said the incident was an internal issue.

Sources said India then sent a note of protest or “note verbale” on Sunday asking Pakistan to take “remedial action” to ensure the safety of its citizens from minority communities.

 According to reports, the two sisters Raveena, 13, and Rina, 15, were abducted and forced to undergo religious conversion. Pakistan Hindu Sewa Welfare Trust alleged that police initially refused to lodge an FIR in the case and did so only after the local Hindus protested. 

 In his social media response, Mr Chaudhry alleged that minorities were not safe in India and argued that his country was committed to protecting its minority communities. “...White colour of our flag is equally dearer to us,” the Pakistani minister said, urging the senior Indian minister to address alleged violation of human rights of Indian minority communities. This led to further exchanges between Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Chaudhry.

 Ms. Swaraj responded by saying that her order to the Indian High Commission had made the Pakistan minister “jittery”. “This only shows your guilty conscience,” she said. To which Mr. Chaudhry referred to the human rights situation in Kashmir and Gujarat, saying, “…sincerely hope that your conscience will allow you to stand up for minorities at home as well.” 

Later, the Minister said the matter was being looked into by the Ministry of Human Rights of Pakistan. Radio Pakistan also reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered an immediate investigation into the abduction. 

 Mr. Chaudhry said the Prime Minister has also ordered the Sindh and Punjab governments to devise a joint action plan.

PTI adds:

Imran orders probe

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered a probe into reports of abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of the two Hindu girls and to take immediate steps for their recovery.

The Hindu community in Pakistan has carried out massive demonstrations calling for strict action to be taken against those responsible, while reminding Prime Minister Khan of his promises to the minorities of the country.

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