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Protest in Jacobabad over girl’s conversion, marriage

SUKKUR: Election for the Hindu Punchayat in Jacobabad scheduled for Friday had to be postponed due to a wave of anger in the local minority community over conversion of a young female member.

Reports from the Jhanjhri Street area of the city suggested that the girl, Ganga, daughter of Ashok Kumar, a gold trader, married to Asif Ali, son of Bahadur Ali Surhio, another gold trader, at Dargah Amrot Sharif, where the girl embraced Islam before
custodian of the shrine Syed Siraj Ahmed Shah Amroti. She changed her name to Aasia.

Parents of the girl, along with several relatives, rushed to the shrine immediately after coming to know about the matter
but the freewill marriage had already been registered.

They returned to their area of residence and lodged an FIR of their daughter’s alleged kidnapping against Asif Ali as well as his father, Bahadur Ali, and a brother, Abid Ali, and another man, Miran Bukhsh, at the city police station.

Asif Ali remained away from his residence located in Gharibabad but his father, brother and Miran Bukhsh were arrested.

In the meantime, the Hindu community of the city took to the streets and staged a protest demonstration against what they described as ‘kidnapping’ of the girl. Angry groups of local residents also called for a strike and postponement of the Hindu Punchayat elections until the matter was settled.

However, candidates and their supporters present in the Janta Hall, where polling was to take place, strongly resisted the move.
Heated arguments between supporters and opponents created an ugly situation and police had to be called out to restore order.

Later, incumbent Punchayat chief Harpal Das Chabria announced postponement of the election for an indefinite period. He told several hundred voters and their candidates that kidnapping of community girls and their forced conversion had registered an increase for some time.

He appealed to the authorities concerned to check the trend and provide protection to the community in the province.

A rally was also taken out from Janta Hall against the alleged kidnapping of the girl. Participants in the rally marched up to the
local press club raising slogans for the girl’s reunion with her family.

Their leaders warned that if the demand was not met, the community would observe a shutterdown across the city and start

Some of them alleged that local Sarafa Association president Samiullah Surhio was involved in the (alleged) kidnapping episode. However, Mr Surhio told the media that he had nothing to do with the matter.

He said he was being dragged into the matter only because he and Asif Ali had the same caste. He expressed his sympathy
with the affected family and the Hindu community and assured them of all cooperation in settling the dispute.