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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Minor Hindu girl Meena Bhatt (14) declared ‘adult’ by medical board, handed over to her abductor: Sindh, Pakistan

Meena Bhatt, a 14-year-old minor Hindu girl was abducted by Syed Salim Shah Mukhtiyar Shah Aziz u Rehman and others on 8 February 2023. The father of the girl, a poor laborer, registered an FIR for kidnapping and under Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act which bars marriage of those below 18.

But, in yet another travesty of justice, the court ordered an age determination test for the child, and the medical board has ‘determined’ her age to be between 17-18 years. Based on this ‘scientific evidence’, the court has handed over the child to her abductor ‘husband’ for a life of misery.

Meena’s beleaguered parents produced school records which show her date of birth as 1-1-2009, meaning she just turned 14 years old earlier this year.

School admission form of Meena showing her age as just 14 years (DOB: 1-1-2009)

Despite this, the civil judge ordered an age determination test for Meena. The office of the Medical Superintendent/Civil Surgeon of Mirpur Khas issued an ‘age certificate’ claiming her age is between 17-18 years based on the ‘examination’ by Dr. Muneer Ahmed Sangrasi, senior radiologist. The letter even tries to legitimize the forced conversion & marriage of the minor Hindu girl by referring to her with her Islamic name Shahnaaz and calling her ‘wife of’ her abductor Mukhtair.

In the conversion certificate issued by maulvi (Islamc cleric) Taj Muhammad of Hyderabad, Sindh, the girl’s age is written as ’22 years old’.

Islamic conversion certificate issued by a maulvi wrongly shows the abducted Hindu child’s age as 22

Here is the copy of the FIR lodged by Meena’s father –

FIR copy

Many Hindu girls like Meena Bhatt are abducted, raped, forcefully converted and married every month. While some are so poor that they lack even basic documentation, even those families which have official documents like school certificates and NADRA records showing their daughter’s true age are ignored by authorities and medical boards are formed to determine their ages, which are often rigged to show minor Hindu girls as adults.

A protest was held by the Hindu community, under leadership of minority rights organization Pakistan Darawer Itehad, for recovery of Meena Bhatt and another abducted girl Lali Kachhi at Mirpur Khas press club.

Hindu community demands return of two abducted minor Hindu girls in Mirpur Khas, Sindh

Lali Kachhi, a married girl, was first abducted in November by a Muslim man, Abdullah Khoso. Her family approached courts and in a rare ruling, the court reunited the girl with her family. But Abdullah Khoso barged into her home again on December 25 and abducted. Lali’s brother Laloo Kachhi fought bravely with Khoso and his men and was badly injured. He later succumbed to his injuries. Lali and Laloo’s elderly mother had to sit on protest overnight before police filed an FIR. Lali has still not been traced.

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