Journalist Irfan Husain describes the horrors of forced conversions in this report from the SouthAsia Network:
MEET Sanno Amra and his wife Champa: a middle-aged Hindu couple. They live in a small, simple but spotlessly clean home in Karachi’s Punjab Colony. Until six weeks ago, they lived with their five children, reasonably content with their lot. Sanno worked as a chauffeur, and his wife cooked for a family. On October 18, their lives suddenly fell apart: Champa returned home from work to discover that her three oldest daughters were missing “” Reena (21), Usha (19) and Rima (17) had seemingly vanished without a trace. This is any parent’s worst nightmare, but the couple’s woes had only begun.
After searching frantically for the girls, they went to the local police station where the SHO put them off without registering a case. A couple of days later, they met the deputy superintendent of police for Clifton. This proved to be the only bright spot in the entire tragic episode, for DSP Raza Shah went out of his way to help. He forced his subordinates to file an FIR, and his intervention was invaluable in ensuring the safety of the parents. And just for the record, the MQM “˜sector-in- charge” also lent them his organisation’s support.
On October 22, a police FIR for kidnapping was duly prepared, naming three young men from the neighbourhood as the principal suspects. Immediately, Sanno and his wife started getting threats from their neighbours. Earlier they had never had any problems, although they were the only Hindu family in a predominantly Muslim locality. But now, the same people were pressuring them to remove the names of the local boys from the FIR.
Within days, they received a package by courier containing three identical affidavits signed by their daughters, stating that they had converted to Islam of their own free will. The declaration concluded: “That since my parents are Hindu and after conversion of my religion, it is not possible for me to live and pass my life in Hindu system/society [sic] and therefore, I have decided to live separately…”
According to their affidavits, the girls (now calling themselves Afshan, Anam and Nida) were living in the hostel of the Madarsa Taleem-ul-Quran, and were being instructed by a local moulvi. On November 10, a court order directed the police and the administrators of the seminary to arrange a meeting between the girls and their parents.
When Sanno and Champa finally met their daughters, they were shocked to see that they were in burqas that concealed them from head to toe, leaving only their eyes uncovered. The eyes of the youngest girl were bloodshot from weeping. At this supposedly private meeting, a dour woman was present throughout as were a moulvi and a couple of cops. In subdued voices muffled by heavy fabric, the girls said they wanted to stay where they were.
Understandably, the parents are convinced that their daughters were under pressure. In fact, they simply cannot come to terms with the notion that their children have not only abandoned them, but also the faith they grew up in. As far as they are concerned, their daughters have been brainwashed. Interestingly, the girls have cited “religious channels on TV” as the reason for their conversion.
Read it all.