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Geneva: Sindhi Foundation holds protest at UN demanding release of missing Hindu girl

Sindhi Foundation holds protest in front of UN in Geneva (Photo: ANI)

The Sindhi Foundation organised a demonstration at the Broken Chair in front of the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, calling for the release of Priya Kumari, a minor girl who has been missing for the past three years from the Sindh province of Pakistan.

The protest coincided with the UN Human Rights Council’s 56th Session. Munawar “Sufi” Laghari, the Executive Director of the Sindhi Foundation, emphasised the urgency of Priya Kumari’s case.

He said, “I have come all the way from Washington, DC to Switzerland, especially for Priya Kumari. Three years ago, she was forcefully disappeared in Sindh province of Pakistan. She was only seven years old. Still, we don’t know where she is, but there are speculations that Sindh’s feudal lords, shahs, and their supporters, including the Pakistani military, are responsible. Why are they disappearing our daughters? They are trying to forcefully kidnap Sindhi Hindus for ransom and to drive them out of Sindh.”

Expressing hope and determination Laghari said, “Through our struggle and this momentum, Priya Kumari will one day be free. This is not our first demonstration in front of the UN; we have protested in Toronto, the UK, and our next focus will be the United States. I am confident that we will garner support from various places for Priya Kumari. I call on the international community, especially the United Nations, to conduct an independent investigation into her disappearance. This is not the first girl to be forcefully disappeared; there are many others.”

Maqbool Channa, a Sindhi political activist from Manchester, UK, also joined the protest. He criticised the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency, the ISI.

He said, “The Pakistan Army claims the ISI is the world’s strongest intelligence agency. For three years, Priya Kumari has been missing. Everybody knows that she has been kidnapped by the Shah family, but they don’t want to release her. The agencies, the police, the army – we are asking the Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir: if you claim to be the most powerful person, then where is Priya Kumari? She has been missing for three years. Is it because she is a Hindu and belongs to a poor family?”

Channa accused Nasir Shah, a politician from Sindh, of being behind the kidnapping. He said, “The kidnappers are very powerful. Nasir Shah is a minister in the government of Sindh. I am asking Bilawal Bhutto to take action. He is a kidnapper. We want the release of Priya Kumari.”

Later, the Sindhi Foundation submitted a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, urging the United Nations’ assistance for the safe release of Priya Kumari. It said that Priya Kumari was kidnapped by an influential local when she was offering water to the mourners of the Shaheeds of Karbala in front of her home in 2021.

In the letter, the Sindhi Foundation said, “On 19th August 2021, which was also the 9th of Muharram 1443 AH, this innocent girl was offering water in front of her house to the mourners of the Shaheeds of Karbala in an act of humanity as she did not belong to the religion of mourners. She was in her innocence seeking to do a good deed by quenching the thirst of the mourners on a hot, humid day. It was during her performing this noble and humanitarian act that she was kidnapped by a local influential who has very strong connections with the army and their supported party that has continuously ruled Sindh since 2008 and has been in power before too.”

It added, “The politicised police of Sindh are unable to act against the guilty because the influence wielded by the abductor deters them from performing their duty, as they fear reprimands from the political bosses to whom they are loyal, rather than the law of the land.”

The Sindhi Foundation also requested Volker Turk to set up an international independent investigation to secure the release of innocent Priya Kumari from the clutches of her abductors.