SUKKUR: Despite it being the weekend, Daharki’s civil court was abuzz with activity on Sunday morning as 12-year-old Anjali was produced before the civil judge to record a statement under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Anjali’s alleged forced conversion and marriage with a Muslim man has triggered protests from her community in Sukkur. Her parents believe that she was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.
According to sources at the court, Anjali, who adopted the name Salma after embracing Islam, was produced in the court of Hafiz Attaullah Shaikh, who decided to send her to a shelter house in Karachi for 10 days as the girl was unable to record a statement. Sources claim the minor was confused and could not utter a word despite repeated questions from the judge. She was escorted to Karachi by the police.
Several men and women from the Meghwar community and Dargah Bharchoondi were present at court, including the girl’s parents.
Sources claim that when Ajali walked into the courtroom, her mother ran to her and embraced her. The parents asked their daughter to come home with them but she refused and continued to walk ahead with the police.
The chief of the Meghwar community, Jaswant Meghwar, told The Express Tribune that a large number of people from Dargah Bharchoondi Sharif were present outside the courtroom and that might have frightened Anjali which is why she failed to record a statement before the court.
He claimed that the girl had been sent to Karachi to take some time and compose herself. He said that she will be produced before the court again. He added that the Hindus of Daharki were observing a shutter-down strike, while protests were being carried out in Mirpur Mathelo to condemn the incident.
Anjali Kumari Meghwar, daughter of schoolteacher Kundan Mal Meghwar, a resident of Mustafa Abad Mohalla, disappeared four days ago, residents said. Subsequently, rumours surfaced that she had eloped with Riaz Sial, son of Anwar Sial, a resident of Maswan Mohalla. The girl’s parents and community, however, allege that she was kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. On Friday, Kumari was handed over to the police with help of an influential figure of Daharki, but the boy is yet to be arrested. According to reports, Anjali has converted to Islam at Dargah Bharchoondi Sharif and also recorded her statement under Section 164 in a court in Sadiqabad, Punjab two days ago.
On Saturday, the Hindu community observed a shutter-down strike in the town and demanded that the girl be handed over to her parents. The police produced Anjali in the civil court on Friday, but her statement could not be recorded as the court time was up.
On the other hand, Pir Abdul Khaliq of Bharchoondi Sharif confirmed that the girl had contacted him some days ago and had expressed her desire to convert to Islam. He added that she had filed an application in the court, demanding protection. Pir Sahib further said that “Islam does not allow forced conversion and we do not force any Hindu to embrace Islam. But they do come to us themselves.” According to him, Anjali had come to the Dargah a couple of days ago and had embraced Islam of her own free will.