Another young Hindu girl has disappeared, indicating the ongoing problem of forced conversion and abduction of girls from minority communities. Sheela Meghwar, the daughter of Rangelu Ram, disappeared while visiting a Hindu temple in the old market district of Mirpur Mathelo in the Ghotki district of Sindh.
Her distraught parents immediately filed a complaint with the police, but received no help or assistance in finding their missing daughter. The family’s anguish and tears are a heartbreaking reminder of the pain and suffering often endured by minorities in Pakistan.
This incident is just one of many cases in which girls from minority communities are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, usually at Sufi shrines, and married off to Muslim men against their will. The Hindu community in Sindh is particularly affected by such incidents, and reports of young girls being abducted are all too common.
The problem of forced conversions and abductions of minority girls in Pakistan has existed for many years. It has also attracted some international attention, although far less than what it deserves, and is a clear human rights violation. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of protection and support from the government and law enforcement agencies. Many families like Sheela’s are left to fend for themselves and unable to find their missing loved ones.
The situation is particularly dire for minority Hindus in Sindh, who are often marginalized and discriminated against. They are subject to constant threats and intimidation, and their basic human rights are frequently violated.
The Pakistan Hindu Council says that forced conversions are the main manifestation of religious persecution against Hindus in Pakistan, who are regarded as inferior ‘kafirs’ and demonized in textbooks and popular culture in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Due to ongoing violence and prejudice against their community, many Hindus have been compelled to leave the country.
The dominant Sindh political parties are known to assist and defend religious organizations suspected of sponsoring forced conversions, like Sufi shrine Bharchundi Sharif in Ghotki and Pir Ayub Jan Sarhandi dargah in Samaro, Umerkot. It is challenging for the government to take action against these institutions because the offenders are frequently harbored and supported by them.