ISLAMABAD: The Sindh police on Friday informed that the two men, who allegedly abducted and forcibly converted two Hindu minor girls on the eve of Holi, were already married and had children from their previous marriages.
Geo News quoted Tufail Bhutto, the station house officer (SHO) of the Daharki police station in Sindh province, as saying that the wives and children of both accused, Safdar Khobar and Barkat Malik, have left them after learning of their second marriages.
Khobar has three daughters and a son, while Malik is the father of three daughters, the police noted.
The incident came to light after the girls' fathers and brothers revealed the details in videos that went viral on social media. In a separate video, however, the girls claimed that they accepted Islam out of their own will.
The Islamabad High Court, on March 26, directed the state to take custody of the two girls and ensure their safety on a petition by the sisters claiming that the story of their forcible conversion from Hinduism to Islam was "fabricated."
The petition was filed by the girls and their alleged spouses to seek protection from adverse action.
After hearing the petition, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah also ordered that a woman Superintendent of Police should be deputed with the two sisters to ensure their safety.
The court directed authorities that an investigation report about their case should be presented before it by April 2 when it will issue further directions.
On Monday, police had arrested at least seven people, including a 'nikah khwan' (marriage officiator), allegedly involved in the case.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday asked Pakistan to return to the family two minor Hindu girls who were abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and married off on the eve of Holi in Sindh province.
The case of two Hindu girls from Sindh is one of many cases of forced conversion and marriage of underage Hindu girls to Muslim men, which are repeated in villages of districts of Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Umerkot in Sindh (close to Indian border) from time to time, many of which go unreported. These three districts Mirpurkhas (33 pc Hindus), Tharparkar (36 pc Hindus) and Umerkot (49 pc Hindus) contribute to the significant Hindu community in Sindh.
On March 27, another Hindu girl was allegedly abducted from Badin city in Sindh, with her father claiming that she was kidnapped at gunpoint from the Jam Khan Pitafi village and feared that his girl may be subjected to forceful conversion to Islam.
In a First Information Report (FIR), the father of Mala, 14, said that his daughter was kidnapped on March 16 by Ghulam Haider Taheem, a resident of Umerkot's Pithoro area, along with a few others from the same village.
Meanwhile, India had shared its concerns through an official note to the Pakistan Foreign Office over the incident. India sought suitable remedial action by the Pakistan government to protect and promote safety, security, and welfare of its own citizens, especially from the minority communities.
Pakistan human rights activists have claimed that this is another case of forced conversion and abduction, which are becoming increasingly common in the southern region of Sindh.