Rinkle Kumari was Hindu last month
For many years, I was convinced that Sindh is the most liberal and secular province. I thought that minorities were more secure here because of the history deeply rooted mysticism. But that was until I became familar with teenager Rinkle Kumari’s tragic tale. One, amongt many, whose story needed to be told.
While most of us know Maya Khan and Veena Malik how many of us know Rinkle Kumari of District Ghotki, Sindh? She was picked up from her home and then reportedly forced to convert to Islam just a few days ago. How many of us are even aware of these incidents taking place?
Nand Lal, the father of the teenager, who is a teacher at the Government Primary School Yarlund, Ghotki, along with his family members has taken shelter at Gurdwara, Lahore as he received threats from the local influential people.
While according to some reports Rinkle coverted to Islam of her own free will (now Faryal) Rinkle’s family says, that a local leader is supporting the kidnappers and had pressurized the local magistrate to conclude with a decision in their favour, ignoring the plea in the written testimony of the kidnapped girl.
For many, it may be good news as a Hindu girl has ‘embraced’ Islam and has become an addition to the Ummah. Some may also believe that by getting her convert to Islam, one of them might get a berth booked in the Heaven as well, as it is generally perceived or believed.
Rinkle is not the only girl who has been a victim of such inhumane and unlawful treatment. There are 20 to 25 cases every month and around 300 cases per year. These young Hindu girls are abducted by influential people and converted to Islam against their will. Most of them take shelter in madrassas to avoid the backlash from society. In fact this is one of the main reasons that Hindus, particularly from upper Sindh, are migrating to India in bulk every year is because they are unable to bear the brunt and subsequent embarrassment in the society when their abducted daughters return as converts to Islam.
Except a certain section of media, these issues are hardly highlighted in mainstream media, the reason being the right-wing news policy of most of the media houses and growing commercialization.
Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (who took suo moto notice on the confiscation of two bottles of alcohol from actress Atiqa Odho) seems to have no time to have take suo moto notice or even notice of the forcible conversion of young Hindu girls. The honorable chief justice often quotes in hearings, that corruption cases have brought a bad name to the country, but did the CJ even notice that forcible conversion and persecution of minorities also contribute to the country declining image.
Moreover, over two dozen legislators belonging to religious minority have not been able to make their voices heard regarding a remedy for the grievances of their community. The reason for their voices have reached deaf ears and continue to be ineffective can be found in a quote by a Hindu parliamentarian who stated, “We are selected members, not elected.”
Though, I am an ardent supporter of democracy and democratic values, minorities in Pakistan were more secure during dictator, Pervez Mushrraf’s term, than in this government in which Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer and Federal Minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, were killed.
In recent incidents like Rinkle Kumari and the case of three Hindus being murdered in broad daylight in Chak, Shikarpur, a few months back, the Sindhi nationalists have supported the Hindu community. In comparison, the members of the ruling PPP and other parties, only make hollow speeches. Those who have read the Constitution refer to Article 20, 25 and 39 in an effort to purport to their fellow parliamentarians that the minorities were enjoying equal rights, as stated in the constitution. But an issue that concerns the minority community most is that of forcible conversion of their youth and abduction for which there is no law.
So if there is no law addressing this issue is it okay for the issue to be overlooked?
Is there anybody drafting a law that will guarantee protection and freedom of religious belief?
The answer, unfortunately, is simply a ‘no’.
I am a Hindu writer and cannot help but wonder if my words have any weight at all and if so then, would they be effective enough to initiate any substantial change? I hope so, but I believe not. There is a dire need to speak up by the so-called liberal and secular elite. Forget about Maya, Meera and Veena. Wake up and hear the unheard calls for help. Someone please speak up about Rinkle Kumari.
She is the one in need of attention.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.