Sikh girl ‘forcefully converted to Islam’ returned to family after govt intervenes


LAHORE: A 19-year-old Sikh girl, who was allegedly forced to convert to Islam after being married to a Muslim youth, was returned to her family after days of negotiations between a high-level government committee and a 30-member committee of the Sikh community came to an end on Monday.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar announced on Tuesday from his official account that the issue was “amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the concerned families”. He also thanked the families of Jagjit Kaur — the girl who was allegedly forced to convert — and the youth who had been accused of abducting and forcibly converting her, for coming to the Governor House in order to sort out the matter.

“Great news for Pakistani and Sikh communities across the world. Issue of Nankana girl was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the concerned families. The girl is safe and in touch with her family. We shall continue to ensure the rights of minorities in Pakistan!” the governor tweeted.

“Inshallah under the leadership of Imran Khan we will protect the kids of minorities like our own kids and no kind of atrocities or injustice will be tolerated against them. “The government of PTI will become the voice of any minority family that is subjected to injustice and they will be provided with justice at every cost,” he added.

In a video posted on Sarwar’s Twitter account, the father of the man who allegedly forced Kaur to convert and marry him declared that they “will not approach any court for the girl’s custody”.

“If she wishes to go with them (her family), we have no objections. They are her guardians,” he said.

A representative of the girl’s family and the Sikh community also thanked the government, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Punjab governor for intervening and resolving the matter.

The matter came to light last week, when a first information report (FIR) was registered in the Nankana police station against six people who were accused of abducting and forcefully converting 19-year-old Kaur. Police had traced the nominated persons to Lahore and had arrested one of them, while three others had obtained pre-arrest bail. The remaining two were at large.

After the FIR was lodged, the police were contacted by Sheikh Sultan, who said he was Kaur’s advocate and told officials that she had embraced Islam and contracted marriage with Mohammad Hassan of her own free will.

Kaur’s advocate also said that he had filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court on behalf of Kaur against her family and local police, accusing them of “illegal harassment”. A statement by the girl was submitted in writing in the court, in which she also accused her family of “wanting to kill me”.

Following Kaur’s statements in court, the Sikh community had demanded that police bring her back to her parents’ house irrespective of the conversion being forced or consensual.

The matter was brought to the government’s attention when the district police officer of Nankana Sahib sent a memorandum to the inspector general of police (IGP) Punjab in which he detailed the developments of the case and urged for “relevant quarters” to intervene.

“[The Sikh community] is agitating against the incident and videos of family of the girl [were] also viral on social media and international media,” the memorandum read.

“It is requested that concerned quarters may kindly be taken on board so that Sikh community could be engaged and pacified timely as the community has announced to protest if their demand is not honoured.”