On 16th August 2021 two teenage
Christian cousins from Warburton, District Nankana Sahib were kidnapped at
gunpoint outside their house by local Muslim men.
According to Mumtaz Bibi, the
mother of Simran and aunt of Sheeza, on 11 August she went to attend the
funeral one of their relatives in Faisalabad with another family member, but
she left her daughter Simran, aged 16, her son Anoos and her brother,
Ghafoor Masih’s daughter Sheeza, 15, to stay together and look after Anoos, who
But when she returned Simran and
Sheeza were not at home. Crying, Anoos told her the girls had been kidnapped by
two Muslim men, Ali Raza and Lali Iqbal, at gunpoint outside their house.
Anoos told his mother that around 4 PM Simran went to the shop to buy some food but Ali Raza and Lali who were
present outside their house dragged Simran and forcefully pushed her into a
rickshaw parked nearby. Simran started shouting and called for help. Sheeza went
to help her, but she was also attacked. She started crying too and in the
meantime, Anoos came out and when he saw that both girls were struggling against
Ali and Lali who were pushing them into the rickshaw, he started shouting for
help to save his sister.
Their neighbour Sahil and some
people gathered around and tried to rescue the girls but Ali and Lali pointed
their guns toward them and threatened to kill them if anyone interfered and
tried to stop them.
Mumtaz further said in her
statement the family tried to search for the girls but couldn’t find them. They
went to the kidnapper’s houses, but their houses were locked and there was
A local resident, Nadeem, said
that he saw Ali and Lali in the Warburton area about 5 PM.
The Police has registered a case
against Ali Raza, Lali Iqbal, Sabira Bibi, Sarang Chanan, Gongloo Sumendar and
some other people who are believed to be involved by the victims’ families.
Until now nobody has been arrested but the family is fearful about the girls'
wellbeing as several days have passed and they don’t know whether the girls are
alive or not. They have heard horror stories about such cases but hope their
daughters will return home safely.
Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK has
expressed his concern over the ongoing situation, saying the kidnapping, forced
conversion and forced marriage of teenage Christian and Hindu girls have become
an everyday matter.
He said: “Parents of young Hindu
and Christian girls are fearful of their future in Pakistan.
“In this year alone we have
recorded over two dozen cases, and the majority of cases are of Christian girls
He further said that it is frustrating as the government and law enforcement agencies - those with power - are aware of the situation but turn a blind eye.
Mr Saeed said: “Forced conversion
of religious minorities primarily in girls, some younger than 12 years old,
seems to have become a norm not only for the Pakistani government but for the
community as well. Hardly any member of society admits to seeing the severity
of the problem at hand.
He added that comments made by
Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri that there should be no
restrictions on converting religion before the age of 18, saying that if
someone aged 14wished to convert to some other religion, they could "not be
stopped", were very disappointing.
Qadri said in the Islamic faith,
anyone could convert to the religion regardless of age. He said "There are
several incidents where someone expresses the wish to convert their religion
out of their own choice before the age of 18. There are several examples in
Islam of religious conversion before 18".
Mr Saeed further said that the Islam-influenced judiciary system has also become a safety net for paedophiles and rapists who take advantage of the Islamic faith’s inherent good deeds to justify their criminal minds.
Mr Saeed said forced conversion
and forced marriages are serious crimes and the government must pay attention
and introduce new legislation to stop this growing problem.