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Pakistani Hindu Senator Danesh Palyani raises alarm over forced conversions in Sindh

Pakistani Hindu Senator Danesh Kumar Palyani (Photo: @palyani)

Pakistani Hindu leader and member of the Senate, Danesh Kumar Palyani on Tuesday raised concern over the grave human rights crisis in the Sindh province of the country and said that the girls of the Hindu community are being forcibly converted to Islam.

“You see in Sindh, bandits are forcefully converting our Hindu girls to Islam. Bandits in mud forts areas kidnap people but Bandits in settled areas are forcing girls to convert their religion. However, Pakistan gives us the right that no one should force anyone else to convert,” the leader in the ongoing 337th session of the Pakistan Senate.

“Even in Quran, it says ‘La ikraha fiddin’, [there be no compulsion in religion], where in ‘Surah Al-Kafirun’, it says Your religion for you and mine for me. These oppressive people dont even believe in Pakistan’s constitution nor in Quran sharif. They are forcibly changing religion of Hindu women,” it added.

The Pakistani leader also shared his speech on his social media account X, saying, “The daughters of Hindus are not a booty that someone should forcibly change their religion, Hindu girls are being forcibly converted to the religion in Sindh. It has been two years since innocent Priya Kumari was abducted.”

“The government does not take action against these influential people. Senator Danesh Kumar’s address in the Senate session. A few dirty eggs and robbers have defamed our beloved mother land Pakistan. The law/Constitution of Pakistan does not allow forced religious conversion and neither does the Holy Quran,” he added.

On April 11, UN experts expressed dismay at the continuing lack of protection for young women and girls belonging to minority communities in Pakistan.

“Christian and Hindu girls remain particularly vulnerable to forced religious conversion, abduction, trafficking, child, early and forced marriage, domestic servitude and sexual violence,” the experts said. “The exposure of young women and girls belonging to religious minority communities to such heinous human rights violations and the impunity of such crimes can no longer be tolerated or justified.”

The experts expressed concern that forced marriages and religious conversions of girls from religious minorities which have been coerced are validated by the courts, often invoking religious law to justify keeping victims with their abductors rather than allowing them to return them to their parents. “Perpetrators often escape accountability, with police dismissing crimes under the guise of ‘love marriages’,” they said.

The experts stressed that child, early and forced marriage cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds. They underlined that, under international law, consent is irrelevant when the victim is a child under the age of 18.

“A woman’s right to choose a spouse and freely enter into marriage is central to her life, dignity and equality as a human being and must be protected and upheld by law,” the experts said. They stressed the need for provisions to invalidate, annul or dissolve marriages contracted under duress, with due consideration for the women and girls concerned, and to ensure access to justice, remedy, protection and adequate assistance for victims.