In a shocking statement made by none other than the head of Pakistan’s parliamentary committee on forced religious conversions, Senator Anwar Ul Haq Kakar has said that conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh province cannot be declared as forced as the girls had “some degree of willingness”.
Kakar made these alarming remarks during a recent press briefing alongside committee member MNA Lal Chand Malhi and civil society activist Krishan Sharma after the committee came back with its findings about incidents of forced conversions of Hindu girls in the Sindh province.
“There are several definitions of forced conversion, and the subject was debated by the committee at length”, Kakar said.
“Although conversion to seek a better lifestyle is also considered forced conversion, economic reasons can be considered exploitation and not force, as eventually it is after consent,” he added.
Kakar said a thin line differentiates consent and exploitation, adding that conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh province could not be considered forced.
“The committee, which included members from other religions as well, did not find any trace of kidnapping and illegal confinement of Hindu girls who later came to give statements in the court,” he said.
The committee members maintained that they conducted a complete survey during their visit to Sindh, during which they held public meetings with senior officials in the Sindh government, officials and even the accused groups, who are allegedly behind the conversions.
The committee also met with the families of the victims to understand better the increasing cases of forced conversions, of what they liked to call conversions of Hindu girls who had either been abducted, or had ran away with their Muslim lovers, converted their religion to Islam and got married.
“The worst part of the situation was that the families’ pain and shame were not taken into consideration. If we all start taking the families into confidence and devise a mechanism to console them, the cases of forced conversions will decline,” Kakar said.
He said the committee found out that most or all of the cases of forced conversions had some degree of willingness on the girl’s part.
“What we observed is that the majority of the girls and boys had secretly decided to elope and marry. But that was because the families of the two would not accept them as life partners,” he said.
Lal Chand Malhi said that the state should take the responsibility of providing shelter and security to such couples who willingly run away, change their religions willingly and get married.
“Those who run away from their homes should be provided state protection for some time so that the girl may finalise her decision,” he said.
“People such as Mian Mithu and Pir Sarhandi house girls and manage the system to keep the girls away from their families. There is no evidence that these people are backed by any authority, political power or state organ,” he added.
Activist Kirshan Sharma said there were two kinds of forced conversions that persist in the country, insisting that they need the state’s immediate attention.
“There are two kinds of forced conversions, the first involving kidnapping and illegal confinement, and a second kind. The second kind is rampant in Sindh and that has to be taken care of by the state. This is procedural forced conversions, in which the whole system of the country, from the police to the courts etc., are violating the laws and facilitating such conversions,” he said.
“When the parents present a certificate that the age of the girl is below 18 years, the police usually do not attach this document in the FIR, but we have women protection laws in the country and we need to implement them,” he added.
The parliamentary committee will also meet with the Council of Islamic Ideology to discuss cases where a Hindu girl wishes to return to her family after expressing consent to a marriage with a Muslim in court.
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STAN SWAMY’S CLAIMS OF SEIZURE OF HIS STRAW, SIPPER FALSE: NIA
MUMBAI: Claims made by rights activist Stan Swamy, currently in jail in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, regarding the seizure of straw and sipper by National Investigation Agency (NIA) are “false and mischievous”, said the central probe agency in a public statement on Sunday. “The reports claiming that NIA recovered straw and sipper from Swamy and sought 20 days’ time from the special court to respond to Swamy’s plea to allow him the items in Taloja Central Jail, are false, incorrect and mischievous,” the investigation agency said, adding that it never recovered any straw and sipper from the accused.
The 83-year-old activist, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, filed a petition in the Special NIA Court earlier this month seeking a sipper and straw to take water and other liquid meals. In the plea, he said his sipper and straw were taken away from him when he was put in jail in October after his arrest.
During the latest hearing of the case on 26 November, Swamy’s lawyer told the court that his client was not being provided with any sipper and straw despite his repeated requests.
The NIA, however, told the court that it has not taken Swamy’s custody after his arrest in September and that it was up to the jail authorities to provide him with “anything” as per the manual.
“We have not sought any custody of accused Stan Swamy and he is in Taloja prison near Mumbai since his first remand. So, it is the jail authority which has to decide about providing anything to the accused in judicial custody as per jail manual,” said the NIA. “After arresting accused Stan Swamy, NIA produced him before the Special Court in Mumbai along with a chargesheet on October 9, 2020, and never took his custody. All the necessary legal formalities such as his medical examination etc. were duly observed. Since then, accused Stan Swamy has been in judicial custody at Taloja Central Jail,” the statement said. Satej Patil, Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home, earlier tweeted on 7 November that Swamy is being provided with a sipper and straw.
Day after Surjewala slammed PM Modi’s visit to Covid vaccine hubs, Anand Sharma hails it
Just a day after Congress spokespersons Randeep Surjewala vehemently criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his visit at Covid-19 vaccine making ventres amid farmers’ protests, senior party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma on Sunday said that the PM’s visit to these units across the country to review the progress of vaccine development and manufacturing process will lift the morale of frontline warriors.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla was a recognition of Indian scientists and their work to produce the vaccine for Covid-19 That alone will lift the morale of frontline warriors and reassure the nation,” Sharma said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Modi on Saturday visited facilities in three cities to review the development and manufacturing process of Covid-19 vaccines and got a first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges, and roadmap in India’s endeavour to vaccinate its citizens. He visited Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech facility at Hyderabad and Serum Institute of India in Pune.
Taking note of these Indian vaccine manufacturers for their expertise and potential, Sharma wrote, “Also, respecting the Institutions that India has built over decades that have the expertise and potential making India world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. Urging PM to ensure that an efficient and equitable platform is functional as the vaccine arrives.”
On Saturday, Surjewala had accused PM Modi of getting pictures clicked in corporate offices while farmers are protesting on roads of Delhi. “Wish the PM talks to farmers on the road instead of flying in the aircraft,” he had said in a tweet, after Modi visited a company in Ahmedabad which is engaged in the Covid-19 vaccine research.
“Coronavirus vaccine will be found by scientists, farmers will feed the country and Modi ji and BJPites will handle television,” Surjewala had said.
MEHBOOBA MUFTI SAYS ELECTIONS NO SOLUTION TO J&K ISSUE, BJP HITS BACK
Ravinder Raina, chief of the BJP’s J&K unit, on Sunday said that the only mission of the “Gupkar gang” is to look and make the Union Territory bleed.
“Gupkar gang has only one mission that is to loot and make J&K bleed,” he said. His assertions came soon after PDP president Mehbooba Mufti in a press conference on Sunday said that elections are no solution to the Kashmir issue and it can be resolved only by having a dialogue with Pakistan.
Accusing the PAGD leadership for batting for China and Pakistan, Raina said that in the past 70 years they have sucked the blood of common people of J&K. He also claimed that there is a wave in favour of the BJP in the Union Territory. Raina in a video message on Sunday evening, while hitting back at Mehbooba Mufti, said: “Those who have betrayed the nation will find themselves behind the bars soon.”
Earlier Mehbooba Mufti, in a press conference, said that if Article 370 has resolved all the problems in Kashmir, “why are 9 lakh troops still on the street here”.
She stressed for a dialogue with Pakistan and people of Jammu and Kashmir and accused the BJP government of being communal. “When they are talking to China even after they have grabbed our land, what is wrong in talking to Pakistan? Is it about being a Muslim country because everything is communal now?”
She accused the authorities of not allowing the PAGD leadership and candidates to campaign in J&K in the current DDC elections. “Our candidates have no security while BJP candidates and other puppets are campaigning with security. Still they are rattled by our participation”.
400 railway stations serving tea in ‘kulhad’ to make India plastic-free
Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday said that nearly 400 railway stations serving tea in ‘kulhads’ and added efforts are ongoing to implement the same across the country as Railways’ contribution in making India plastic-free.
“There are nearly 400 railway stations serving tea in Kulhad (earthen cups). We are making efforts to implement the same across the country as part of the Indian Railways contribution in making India plastic-free. It’ll also generate employment,” the minister said after inaugurating the newly electrified Dhigawara-Bandikui section of North Western Railway here. He said that no railway line in Rajasthan was electrified between 2009 and 2014 and added that 1,433 km railway track was electrified in the state between 2014 and 2020.
Goyal also flagged off the first train on this newly electrified route at the function organized at Dhigawara station at an event, which was also attended by several public representatives and senior railway officials.
Speaking on this occasion, Goyal said that under the leadership of Prime Minister, Indian Railways is moving forward in a phased manner with fast pace and quality and is making great achievements with everyone’s cooperation, teamwork, and motivation.
Earlier, Goyal has said that as much as 18,065 km of the railway line was electrified between 2014 and 2020 making a “quantum jump” of 371 per cent in its growth pace as compared to the six years before.
FARMERS’ UNIONS SHOULD CREATE ATMOSPHERE FOR TALKS BY LEAVING AGITATION: NARENDRA TOMAR
After the protesting farmers rejected the Central government’s proposal for dialogue on 3 December, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday said the Centre is ready to hold talks but farmers’ unions should create an atmosphere for the same by leaving the route of agitation.
“The government has proposed to meet on December 3 for the fourth time. So, talks are already going on, nobody should think the government isn’t ready for it. The government is open for talks, but farmers’ unions should create an atmosphere for it. They should leave the route of agitation and choose a way of talks,” the Union minister said while talking to news agency ANI. On farmers’ demands, he added that the laws were amended to bring in reform in the life of farmers and were “definitely” in their favour.
“Farmers were provided with a minimum support price (MSP) in the past. This year too the government procured the produce in MSP. Laws were amended for their reform, and are definitely in their favour,” Tomar reiterated.
Fearing that the new laws will slowly dismantle the minimum support price system, the farmers have been demanding revocation of all three new farm Acts passed in September.
Around 32 farmer bodies, mostly from Punjab, a few farmers from Gujarat and Maharashtra as well managed to reach Delhi on Friday and assembled at the border areas to continue their protest.
The farmers are protesting against The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has ascertained that the central government is ready for talks with the farmers’ unions on December 3.
With ANI inputs
Farm laws ‘revolutionary’ but should have been passed after extensive consultations: BJP MP
The new farm laws are “reformist and revolutionary” but should have been passed after more extensive dialogue with the farming community, said BJP MP Brijendra Singh, who is the great-grandson of legendary farmer leader Chaudhary Sir Chhotu Ram.
Singh said the Centre would not have to deal with agitations if there had been extensive dialogue with stakeholders. “I do feel there is some lack of dialogue prior to passing of these bills in Parliament. Had all the stakeholders been taken on board prior to passage of bills, we would have better situation now,” said the great-grandson of the man who was architect of mandi laws.
While party leaders said the farmers’ agitation has been politicised, Singh who is a son of former Union minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh, had a different view. “When issues of public are involved, politics is bound to come in. Politics isn’t a dirty word. Politics is bound to be there on such an issue of this magnitude,” said Singh.
On Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s alleged accusations of those supporting Khalistan demand being involved in agitation, Singh said that once an agitation attains such a magnitude, there are elements who try to spoil it, be they religious or pro-Khalistan. “They see a window of opportunity for them. We must be careful,” added Singh.
He, however, is all praise for these laws, saying the government has done it with good intentions. “Agriculture sector was crying out for a change to break out of rut that it has been in. The government has taken a bold decision by bringing these farm laws which seek to provide new direction. However, it’s a time consuming process. This will take a long time for private sector to come in and infrastructure to be in place and it will give farmers to see for themselves whether it is for their benefit or not,” said the BJP MP from Hisar.
With ANI inputs
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