*Dr Ramesh Vankwani submits bills, resolution against forced conversions & child marriag

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ISLAMABAD (26-03-2019): Prominent Hindu Lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has tabled two bills and one resolution against forced conversions, child marriages and for protection of minorities throughout the country. Condemning the recent abduction of two Hindu sisters named Reena and Raveena, he also submitted a five-point resolution, which was supported by minority parliamentarians from various political parties, including:  Lal Malhi (PTI), Dr Darshan (PMLN), Ms. Shunila Ruth (PTI), and Ramesh Lal (PPPP).
Dr Ramesh Vankwani, in the bill titled “the Child Marriage Restraint Act (Amendment  2019”, seek to make provisions for the right of freedom of marriage and ban on child marriages. Forced Marriage means a marriage where one or both parties have not given their consent and in prohibited under Section 498B of Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), he described in the bill.
Dr Ramesh Vankwani, who is also patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, emphasized in the bill titled “The Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Act 2019” that no person shall be deemed to have changed their religion until they attain the age of 18 years.  He further stated that any person who forcefully converts another person shall be liable to punishment and a fine to be paid to the victim. “Whoever performs, conducts, directs, brings about or in any way or facilitates a marriage having knowledge that either or both parties are victim of forced conversion shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for minimum three years and a fine to be paid to the victim,” the draft said, emphasizing that this shall also include any person who have provided the logistic support and any other essential services for such forced marriage ceremony. He also elaborated the role of government for curbing such social crimes.
Dr Ramesh Kumar, in his resolution, also demanded to take strict action against culprits including controversial religious figures such as Mian Mithu Bharchoondi and Pir Ayub Jan Sirhindi for their alleged role. He asked the parliament to seek answers from such elements that why neither boy nor old woman, only young girls are converting religion? “All of those who are preaching hate under the cover of religion must be handled like banned religious organizations,” the resolution stated.
Talking to the media outside Parliament House, Dr Ramesh Vankwani said that unfortunately the practice of child marriage is common in all parts of Pakistan particularly in poor areas. He said that the amendment is intended to serve as a deterrent and to remove the existing gender disparity in age. Dr Ramesh, while exchanging his views, also appealed to all fellow parliamentarians to support his efforts for the betterment of entire society. He said that ensuring a peaceful society is responsibility of all Pakistani nationals and thus, regardless of minority or majority, everyone must promote tolerance, interfaith harmony and protection of minorities’ rights, according to Quaid-e-Azam ‘s vision. Answering a question, he said that now this is also a test of all political parties to implement the vision of Quaid-e-Azam in letter and spirit. Time will tell who is serious to transform our beloved country in to a peaceful, prosperous and tolerant Pakistan and who is exploiting the religious sentiments of innocent people for personal gains. He concluded.
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