Even as the two ministers traded sharp remarks on the issue, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan instructed the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab to recover the two girls. Khan also asked the two governments to take concrete steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
On its part, the Indian government sent an official note to the Pakistan Foreign Office, demanding that suitable remedial action be taken by the Pakistan government to “protect and promote safety, security and welfare of its own citizens, especially from the minority communities”.
TOI had reported
+ in its edition on March 23 that the sisters, Raveena (13) and Reena (15), were kidnapped in the Dharki town of Sindh’s Ghotki district and forcibly converted to Islam. TOI had quoted Pakistan Hindu Sewa Welfare Trust chief Sanjesh Dhanja from Karachi saying that the police lodged an FIR in the case only after Hindus came out on the streets against the crime. The two sisters are from Hafiz Salman village near Dharki.
On Sunday morning, Swaraj tweeted from her official Twitter handle, asking the Indian high commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on TOI’s news report .
I have asked Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on this. @IndiainPakistan Two Hindu girls abduct… https://t.co/V9nGU6Ob1d
— Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) 1553396876000
Barely four hours after Sushma took cognizance of the TOI report, Chaudhry responded by saying that it was Pakistan’s internal issue and that this was “not Modi’s India where minorities are subjugated” but “Imran Khan’s Naya Pak where white color of our flag is equally dearer to us”. He expressed hope that Swaraj will “act with same diligence when it comes to minorities in India”.
Mam its Pakistin internal issue and rest assure its not Modi’s India where minorities are subjugated its Imran Khan… https://t.co/OzljbgnyVb
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) 1553410292000
Swaraj tweeted in response, “Mr.Minister @fawadchaudhry – I only asked for a report from Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad about the kidnapping and forced conversion of two minor Hindu girls to Islam. This was enough to make you jittery. This only shows your guilty conscience”.
Mr.Minister @fawadchaudhry – I only asked for a report from Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad about the kidnap… https://t.co/71XQoCStlw
— Chowkidar Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) 1553417708000
Chaudhry retorted, saying: “Madam Minister I am happy that in the Indian administration we have people who care for minority rights in other countries. I sincerely hope that your conscience will allow you to stand up for minorities at home as well. Gujarat and Jammu must weigh heavily on your soul”.
Madam Minister I am happy that in the Indian administration we have people who care for minority rights in other co… https://t.co/z6LxpjNqIl
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) 1553424801000
Sources in Delhi highlighted that what happened with Raveena and Reena was increasingly becoming common in the southern region of Sindh.
“A video has surfaced of the two sisters who were forcibly converted to Islam. Another video of their brother is doing rounds on social media in which he is inconsolable and complaining against lack of action by the Pakistan government,” said a source in Delhi. The abductions have been allegedly carried out by people from the Kohbar and Malik tribes.
Dhanja told TOI on Sunday that after the abduction of the girls, their mother suffered a heart attack and was undergoing treatment. Anjum James Paul, an assistant professor of political science in Government Post-Graduate College in Samundri in Pakistan, who has raised the issue on social media, said the mother was “on her death bed”.
Protests were held on Friday and Saturday against the abduction and forced conversion in cities across Pakistan, including Karachi and Mirpur Khas. Dhanja said with the abduction of the two sisters, the number of such cases in March alone has gone up to six. According to Pakistan media reports, another minor Hindu girl, Shania, from Mirpurkhas, also in Sindh, was abducted and forcibly converted to Islam on Holi-eve.
Dhanja alleged that the two sisters had been moved to Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan’s Punjab province to deliberately delay justice since the FIR was registered in Sindh province.
Pakistan’s Hindu parliamentarian Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who belongs to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and heads Pakistan Hindu Council, has demanded strict action against controversial Muslim preachers, Mian Mithu Bharchoondi and Pir Ayub Jan Sirhandi, for their alleged role in instigating abduction and conversion of the Hindu girls. He told TOI on Sunday that he will table a five-point resolution in the next session of Pakistan’s national assembly and seek an end to abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls.
“The bill against forced conversions, which was unanimously passed by the Sindh assembly in 2016 and then reverted due to pressure of extremist elements, must be resurrected and passed in the assembly on a priority,” he said.
“I have asked the parliament to seek answers why conversions don’t ever involve boys or old women, but only young girls,” he said, adding that those who were preaching hate under cover of religion must be handled like banned religious organisations.
TOI report triggers Twitter spat between Sushma Swaraj, Pak minister – Times of India