Forced Conversions and Child Marriages

KARACHI / ISLAMABAD (Feb 2, 2020): Pakistan Hindu Council, during its meeting of Managing Committee, has urged the government to devise a solid strategy in order to tackle the unwanted incidents of forced conversions and child marriages of Hindu girls on urgent basis. According to a press release issued, the meeting was attended by Patron-in-chief Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, President Gopal Khamuani, VP Raja Bhawan Lohan, General Secretary  Parshotam Ramani, Joint Secretary  Paman Lal Rathi, and others.
The meeting was held in the context that an important bill related to forced conversions, moved by Patron-in-chief Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, is scheduled to be presented before the National Assembly Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony on Monday (February 3, 2020).
On the occasion, the recently-launched report by the US on religious freedom in Pakistan, and other issued related to the FATF and protection of minorities’ rights were also discussed. In this regard, Dr Ramesh Kumar, who is also a prominent Hindu parliamentarian, briefed the members of managing committee regarding his efforts to raise the voice of vulnerable Hindu community at every platform available.
Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani informed that he has also written detailed letters to the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice and the Army Chief to present  recommendations in order to criminalize forced conversions and provide protection for those who are victims of this abhorrent practice.
“The Government must ensure to provide support services which shall include but not be limited to shelter, legal aid, medical aid etc. available for the victim,” the draft of letter stated. Dr Ramesh also suggested that no person shall be deemed to have changed his/her religion until the age of majority (18 years) is attained. According to him,  any person who forcefully converts another person shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than five years and shall also be liable to fine. He further stated that the money charged as a fine shall be paid to the victim.
Dr Ramesh Vankwani, in his letter, further suggested that: ” No report in any newspaper, magazine, news sheet or any mode of social media of any case or proceeding in any Court in which a child or a person of unsound mind is involved, shall disclose the name, address or school or include any particulars calculated to lead directly or indirectly to the identification of any such child or person of unsound mind or shall include any picture of any such child or person of unsound mind in their best interest.”
Dr Ramesh also requested that specific courts must be notified to hear cases of forced conversion and until such notifications are issued, courts of competent jurisdiction shall hear all such cases.

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