The brother of Sikh girl who was allegedly abducted and converted to Islam in Nankana Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab province has said that she has not returned home despite the government’s claim, according to news agency ANI. The brother, who has accused a Muslim man of forcing his teenage sister to marry, contradicted police claims that the girl had returned home to her parents and eight men had been arrested.
“Our sister has not been returned to us till now, these reports are wrong, neither arrests made yet. I appeal to PM Imran Khan, Army Chief and Punjab Governor to ensure justice to us,” he said, according to ANI.
According to reports, a local cleric reportedly arranged her marriage. The girl, Jagjit Kaur, aged around 17 years, is the daughter of a priest at a gurdwara in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. Kaur had been missing for several days before a video emerged of her being converted to Islam and married to the Muslim man. She was renamed Ayesha, according to the video. In the video, the girl, seen sitting beside the Muslim man, says she was getting married without any pressure.
Kaur’s brother, Surinder Singh, said his sister was tortured and forced to convert to Islam. He also filed a formal complaint with police.
The reports of the abduction and forcible conversion of the girl has sparked off outrage in India and beyond. Pakistan watchers in India say the incident, which comes against the backdrop of preparations for the 550 birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, underscored the reality about the plight of Pakistani Sikhs who often were not able to safely practice their faith.
Much of the repeated instances of violence and discrimination against minorities in Pakistan indicates that it remains the bastion of religious extremists and sectarian groups with patronage of the military, an Indian security official who tracks developments in the Indian sub-continent said.
The Indian foreign ministry has already asked Pakistan to take corrective steps.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi that Indian authorities had received a number of representations from various quarters of civil society, including Sikh religious bodies, on the reports of the abduction and forced conversion of the minor Sikh girl. “We have shared these concerns with the government of Pakistan and asked for immediate remedial action,” he said.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has sought firm action against those involved in the abduction and forced conversion of the girl. He urged external affairs minister S Jaishankar to take up the issue with his Pakistani counterpart and called on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to take stern action.