Court lets Hindu teen stay with Muslim husband

Court lets Hindu teen stay with Muslim husband

Karachi: A Sindh High Court bench on Friday allowed a teenaged Hindu girl to live with her Muslim husband, who was accused by the girl’s parents of forcing her to change her religion after kidnapping her.

Ravita Meghwar, allegedly a 16-year old Hindu girl, was said to have been abducted by one Nawaz Ali Shah from Wnharo village of Nagarparkar in the southern Sindh province on June 6.

The Hindu community along with the girl’s family reported to the police that she had been kidnapped and forced to undergo a religious conversion.

Satram Das Meghwar claimed that Shah, with the abetment of a local ‘Syed’ family, kidnapped his daughter from his home on June 6 when all of his family were asleep. He also accused the police of ignoring his pleas to register a complaint against Shah for kidnapping until such time that he managed to formalise his marriage with Ravita, who was allegedly given the name Gulnaz Shah.

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However, the couple later held a press conference at Umerkot town claiming that Gulnaz’s decision to embrace Islam and her wedding too had been with mutual consent. Gulnaz said that she embraced Islam after listening to Ayun Jan Sarhandi, an influential local cleric and preacher.

Gulnaz also demanded that the authorities provide protection for her and her husband.

The couple also produced their wedding certificate showing Gulnaz’s age as 18, the age at which it is permissible to be married according to Pakistani law.

The parents of Ravita contested claims about their daughter’s age by furnishing her primary school certificate and argued that, under the Hindu Marriage Act, an under-girl age could not be pressurised to change her religion.

The two parties approached the Sindh High Court’s Hyderabad bench to remedy their grievances after the issue spiralled out of control. The court on Thursday ordered that Ravita be sent to a government shelter home.

Ravita deposed before the court that she had embraced Islam of her own free will and consent.