A Pakistan High Court on Thursday ruled out forced conversion in the case of the two Hindu teenage sisters whose families had alleged that they had been abducted and forcibly adopted Islam, Dawn reported. The court also permitted the sisters to live with their husbands. The family has said that the siblings are minors, aged between 13 and 15.
The siblings and their husbands had moved the Islamabad High Court on March 25 seeking protection from government action after the girls’ family filed a police case alleging abduction and forced conversion. The siblings in their petition said that they belong to a Hindu family in Ghotki, Sindh, and converted as they were “impressed by Islamic teachings”, Dawn had earlier reported.
The Islamabad High Court gave its verdict based on the findings of a five-member commission that was tasked with looking into the allegations of forced conversion on April 2. The members are Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, Muslim scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Chairperson Mehdi Hasan, National Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz and human rights activist IA Rehman.
The commission concluded that it was not a case of forced conversion. “This is a sensitive matter and we probed it accordingly,” Mumtaz said, according to The Express Tribune. “The girls accepted Islam on their own to marry their lovers.”
A report by the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences had determined that the two siblings were aged 18 and 19. Their family contested the findings of the report on April 2 and asked the court to set up a medical board to determine their age. Pakistan’s Secretary of Interior Azam Suleman told the court that the medical board had concluded that the girls are adults.
The court sought the commissions recommendations on the larger concern of forced conversions in the country within four weeks and scheduled the next hearing for May 14. There are no specific laws against forced conversions in Pakistan.
The siblings’ family had alleged that the teenagers were kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home. The two were subsequently married to their alleged abductors and a video went viral showing a cleric soleminising their marriage under Islamic customs.
The case came to light in March, when the girls’ parents alleged that they had been abducted from their homes on March 20 and forced to convert. India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on March 24 asked the Indian envoy in Pakistan for a report on the alleged abduction. Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an investigation after two videos surfaced on social media. In one video, the father and brother of the girls claimed that they were abducted and forced into converting to Islam. In the other video, the girls claimed they had converted of their own free will.