NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday demanded that the two minor Hindu girls from Sindh province who were abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and married off to older Pakistanis be returned to their families.
The girls were abducted a day before Holi, and after condemnation in India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered an investigation. The girls were found and a Pakistani high court on Tuesday ordered them to be kept under official protection due to concerns about their safety as authorities continued their probe.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, which also saw a video being circulated, purportedly of the girls’ distraught father Hari Das Meghwar being stopped from committing self-immolation outside a police station, Sushma said that “Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan: The age of the girls is not disputed. Raveena is only 13 and Reena is 15 years old…. Even the Prime Minister of Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage.”
Therefore, “Justice demands that both these girls should be restored to their family immediately,” she said.
On Sunday, Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister, Fawad Chaudhry, had responded to Swaraj’s tweet seeking a report from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on the abduction, saying, “Ma’am its Pakistin (sic) internal issue.”
Swaraj responded sharply, saying, “I only asked for a report from Indian High Commissioner... This was enough to make you jittery.”