File photo of Islamabad High Court. Photograph:( AFP )
After the hearing, interior secretary said that the government has already given protection to the girls as instructed by the court.
The Islamabad High Court on Thursday allowed the two Hindu girls - who were kidnapped and allegedly converted - to go with their husbands. The incident was reported on the eve of Holi festival last month in the Sindh province.
The court today said that the interior secretary will be liable to provide protection to the girls and asked the inquiry commission to submit their final report and recommendations by May 14 when the case will come next for hearing.
"Has it been proved and cleared that the girls were not made to convert forcefully? For the satisfaction of minorities, we have tasked this to a commission. This, however, has been proved that the girls are not minors," Chief Justice Athar Minallah said today.
After the hearing, interior secretary Maj Azam Sulaiman Khan (Retd) said that the government has already given protection to the girls as instructed by the court.
"The girls were not made to convert to Islam forcefully. The court had asked us to inquire on this. Me and IA Rehman will meet the girls and conduct their interviews," he said.
IA Rehman, member of the inquiry commission set up by the court, said that there is an impression that a group is behind forced conversions and pleaded to the court to issue some instructions on the particular group. Justice Minallah was quick to respond saying that the province of Sindh does not come under the judicial territory of Islamabad High Court. Rehman also apprised the court that as per the inquiry commission's investigation, the girls were not converted forcefully.
The court had come down heavily on authorities during the last hearing. "Why is it that such incidents happen in your area only? Why is the federation taking this case so lightly? We need to learn from other countries. Whatever the case is, the impact and message internationally are not encouraging," Chief Justice Athar Minallah had the Chief Secretary of Sindh province.
We should learn from the incident in New Zealand. This is an Islamic Welfare state and minorities should have the right to free movement, the chief justice had said.
The two girls were allegedly kidnapped from their home in Sindh's Ghotki district by a group of "influential" men on March 20, a day before Holi. They were converted to Islam and married to Muslim men. A video of a priest purportedly solemnising the marriage of the two girls went viral soon after, triggering nationwide outrage. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered a probe.
The Pakistan police detained at least seven people, including a nikah khwan (marriage officiator), allegedly involved in the abduction, forced conversion, and marriage of the two sisters.