Sikh girl's conversion in Pakistan: Canadian Sikh leader threatens to boycott International Sikh Convention in Lahore
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Toronto/Lahore/New Delhi, Aug 31 (Canadian-Media): As Pakistan started fire-fighting after a young Sikh girl was kidnapped and allegedly forcefully converted to Islam before she was married to a Muslim man in the Punjab province of the Islamic nation, a Sikh leader from Canada has threatened to boycott the International Sikh Convention which is scheduled to be held in Lahore on Saturday.
In a video message available with IBNS, Canadian Sikh leader Sardar Gurcharn Singh threatened to boycott the convention to protest against the conversion of the young woman.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has started to dilute the situation amid protests by Sikh community both inside and outside the nation.
A high-level committee, headed by Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, has been constituted by the provincial government in order to negotiate with a 30-member committee formed by Pakistan's Sikh community in relation to the case pertaining to the alleged forced conversion of the Sikh girl, it emerged on Friday.
Reports said Punjab (Pakistan) Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has ordered a probe into the incident on Saturday.
According to a memorandum sent to inspector general of police (IGP) Punjab by the district police officer (DPO) of Nankana Sahib, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed in the Nankana police station on Aug 28 against six people who were accused of abducting and forcefully converting 18-year-old Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur.
The police subsequently traced the suspects to Lahore and detained one of them. Three of the suspects obtained pre-arrest bail while two others are at large, the memorandum said.
The police were subsequently contacted by Sheikh Sultan, who is supposedly Kaur's advocate, who told them she had embraced Islam, was given the name Ayesha, and then contracted marriage with Mohammad Hassan — one of the main suspects — of her own free will.
Sultan further 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".
The girl also submitted a written statement in the court, stating that she had converted to Islam and married Hassan of her own free will. She also accused her family of "wanting to kill her".
She is currently housed in Darul Aman, Lahore, as per the orders of an additional sessions judge.
The DPO, in his memorandum, attached the "relevant documentary and video proof of the nikah and the girl's conversion to Islam". Copies of the documents from the National Database and Registration Authority, which show that Kaur is 19 years of age, and the nikahnama were also attached.
Following the girl's statements in court, the Sikh community has demanded that the police bring her back to her parents' house irrespective of the conversion being forced or consensual.
The DPO informed the IGP that the Sikh community was "agitating against the incident and videos of family of the girl [were] also viral on social media and international media".
"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," he wrote.
"It is pertinent to mention here that in the backdrop of Indo-Pak tension vis-a-vis Kashmir, any such protest could damage image of the country internationally," he added.
The wedding video:
The video of the wedding ceremony of the girl has now become viral on social media. In the video, the girl in a deadpan face is saying that she has embraced Islam and married the Muslim man by her own will even as her family alleged she was forced to do so.
Jagjit Kaur could be seen chanting Quranic verses as recited by a Muslim cleric. She married a man named Mohammad Ehsaan, as per the video.
The man is a member of terrorist organization Jamaat ud Dawa, sources said.
She said she has been renamed Ayesha after her conversion.
She could be heard saying in the video that she did not bring any jewellery or any crucial property paper from her home.
In the video, the girl could be seen sitting beside Ehsaan.
India reacts strongly against the incident:
India on Friday said the concerns have been shared with the government of the neighbouring Islamic country over the conversion of the girl.
"The Ministry has received a number of representations from various quarters of civil society in India, including Sikh religious bodies in India, at the reports of the incident of abduction and forced conversion of a minor Sikh girl in Pakistan. We have shared these concerns with the Government of Pakistan and asked for immediate remedial action,” MEA official spokeperson Raveesh Kumar said.
Several Indian Sikh politicians also expressed their shocks over the incident.
Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted: "Shocking incident of a Sikh girl being kidnapped & forced to convert to Islam in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan. Call upon @ImranKhanPTI to take firm and immediate action against the perpetrators. Request @DrSJaishankar to strongly take up the issue with his counterpart at the earliest."
Akali Dal leader Manjinder S Sirsa tweeted: "Thanking @MEAIndia Ji for immediate action in this regard. Sikhs of Pakistan need support from India."
He also thanked Gurcharan Singh the Sikh Convention in Lahore.
"I thank Sikh Diaspora for a united stand on the issue of conversion of minor Sikh girl in Pakistan and Dr Gurcharan Singh fr boycotting International Sikh Convention in Lahore Freedom of religion is a basic human right and violations of this right won’t be accepted," he said.
This story was first published in India Blooms News Service (www.indiablooms.com)