Pakistan orders custody for Hindu girls at center of quarrel with India

The two Hindu sisters allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam for marriage. (AFP file photo)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Pakistan orders custody for Hindu girls at center of quarrel with India

  • The teenagers left their home in mostly Muslim Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh on March 20 to be married in Punjab province
  • Police have detained ten people in the case over their marriages

KARACHI, Pakistan: A court in Pakistan on Tuesday ordered the government to take custody of two Hindu sisters allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam, police said, a case that triggered a quarrel with Hindu-majority neighbor India.
Police say the teenagers left their home in mostly Muslim Pakistan’s southeastern province of Sindh on March 20 to be married in Punjab province, where the law does not bar marriages of those younger than 18, unlike Sindh.
“The girls appeared before Islamabad High Court on Tuesday morning,” Farrukh Ali, a police official in their home district of Gothki, said by telephone.
“The court has directed the deputy commissioner to take their custody,” he added, referring to an administration official in the Pakistani capital.
The court set a deadline of next Tuesday for the submission of a report into an inquiry ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and directed that the girls not return to Sindh until the case was resolved, broadcaster Geo Television said.
Police have detained ten people in the case over their marriages and registered a formal case of kidnapping and robbery by the teenagers, after complaints from their parents.
The incident prompted a rare public intervention by a top Indian official in its neighbor’s domestic affairs, when Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter she had asked India’s ambassador in Pakistan for a report on news of it.
Pakistan was “totally behind the girls,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on social media in response to Swaraj’s Sunday message, but asked India to look after its own minority Muslims.
At a news conference on Sunday, he referred to religious riots in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.
In Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations, a charge New Delhi denies.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will seek a second term in a general election starting next month. He has taken a tougher stand toward Pakistan in the past five years.


Thai cave boys mark year since ordeal with Buddhist rites

Updated 21 min 28 sec ago
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Thai cave boys mark year since ordeal with Buddhist rites

  • The boys were lost in a flooded cave in northern Thailand for nine nights before being found
  • It took another eight days for all to make it out safe

MAE SAI, Thailand: The 12 young Thai football players and their coach who grabbed global attention last year when they were trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks have marked the anniversary of their ordeal start with a religious ceremony.
The members of the Wild Boars took part in a Buddhist ceremony Monday before attending a news conference to talk about their lives over the past year.
Many of the boys — now aged 12-17 — say they still dream of becoming professional football players, while others say they want to become Navy SEALs like those who took part in their rescue.
The boys were lost in a cave in northern Thailand for nine nights before being found. It took another eight days for all to make it out safe.