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Friday Mar 29 2019

Men who 'converted', wedded Ghotki girls were already married, wives leave in protest


GHOTKI: In a new turn of events, it has come to light that the men who married the allegedly minor Hindu girls, who, they claimed, did so by their own choice, were already married from before and have children as well.

Speaking to Geo News, Tufail Bhutto — the station house officer (SHO) of the Daharki police station — said the wives of both Safdar Khobar and Barkat Malik have left them after learning of their second marriages.

They also took their children with them and have moved to their parents' houses.

The police officer noted that Khobar has three daughters and a son with his first wife whereas Malik has three daughters from his previous marriage. Both sets of children are aged one to five years old.

The relatives, on the other hand, the entire ordeal led the first wives of both men to leave them and go back to their parents' homes.

Earlier, the incident had come to light after the family of the two Hindu girls — Reena, 14, and Raveena, 12 — revealed the details in videos that went viral on social media.

The father and brother of the teenage girls claimed that the sisters had been abducted from their residence and forcefully converted to Islam before they were subjected to underage marriages.

Shortly thereafter, a separate video of the girls had gone viral, wherein they said they had accepted Islam of their own free will. They were allegedly forced to convert to Islam on March 23, 2019.

Raveena and Reena from Daharki had approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking protection and steps to restrain the government, police, and their family from forcing them to return "and their forceful reversion to Hindu religion".

The government, consequently, had taken notice of the incident after two videos went viral on social media and, on March 26, the IHC ordered the state to ensure protection and take over the custody of the two underage sisters.

The disappearance of Raveena and Reena: A timeline

The two men, regardless, have maintained that they married the Hindu girls "by choice". Justice Minallah, during the IHC hearing, directed that the report of an inquiry ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan be submitted by April 2.

Some days later, on March 27, it emerged that another Hindu girl had been allegedly abducted from Badin, with her father claiming she was kidnapped at gunpoint from the Jam Khan Pitafi village and that he feared the suspect may subject her to forceful conversion to Islam.

The father of Mala, 14, had told police while submitting a request to register an FIR that she was kidnapped on March 16 by Ghulam Haider Taheem — a resident of Umerkot's Pithoro area — alongside his accomplices.

While officers at the Pangrio police station had said they have filed the FIR, they had also mentioned that Mala had already converted to Islam on March 17 and married Taheem, the man her father claimed is her abductor, in a court in Sanghar.

Their statement from the court, as well as the marriage certificate, was available with police, they had added.

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