ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Monday sent two Hindu girls, who had converted to Islam and got married to Muslim boys to Panah, a shelter home, so that they could make a decision of their future with ‘free will’ and with whom they want to go - parents or husbands.Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said, “Let these girls have some free time to think over and decide about their future themselves as now there is pressure of the court, police and their husbands’ parents on them.”A three-member bench headed by the chief justice was hearing a petition filed by Dr Ramesh Kumar, Patron-in-Chief, Pakistan Hindu Council. Dr. Ramesh in the petition pleaded that during the past many days, three females of the Hindu community including Rinkle daughter of Nandlal (Mirpur Mathello) and Dr Lata daughter of Dr Ramesh (Jaccobabad) were kidnapped from CPSP Karachi, whereas another Aasha Devi (Larkana) had also been abducted forcibly.There was a very tense atmosphere in the court during the hearing of the case, as the girls’ parents demanded that their daughters should be allowed to go with them. On the other hand, one of the girls, Rinkle Kumari, whose new name after conversion is Faryal Bibi, while crying begged, “I want to go with my parents,” while Dr Lata Kumari now Hifza Bibi said, “Let me talk to my father.” Hifza’s father Dr Ramesh Kumar created fuss in the courtroom shouting let her daughter go with them, as she wanted.Lata Kumari and Rinkle Kumari in their statements recorded before the bench in-camera said, they converted to Islam and married of their free will. The bench comprising, besides the CJP, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Pervaiz recorded the statement of the girls’ in-camera.After hearing arguments of the girls’ parents and their husbands’ counsel, the chief justice ordered everyone, including media, police and court-attendants to go out of the courtroom. “In the interest of the justice we want to give free atmosphere and talk to the girls alone,” the CJP said.After recording the statements of the girls, the chief justice first called Dr Lata’s parents inside the courtroom and later to Rinkle Kumari’s. A few minutes later everyone was allowed to enter the courtroom. Hearing the case in the open court, the chief justice said, “Such marriages are not taken in normal situation,” adding; “the criminal element could not be overruled in these cases.” He, however, cautioned that both the girls have embraced Islam and solemnized marriages and have been living with their husbands as wives.The chief justice later called the learned counsel of the parties on the rostrum and asked Dr. Khalid Raja, counsel of husband of Hifza Bibi, to read the statement of Dr Lata.According to the statement, Hifza, a 30-year-old, girl, was medical doctor at Agha Khan Hospital. “I got married with Nadir Baig, an engineer at Pak Suzuki Company in 2004 with her free will and then accepted Islam. I hid my marriage from the parents.” Her father’s statement was that when her daughter was in class 8th since that time Nadir used to tease her. Nadir Baig, who was present in the court, said that these are all allegations and there is no truth in it.The chief justice said, “Let both the girls have some free time to think over and decide about their future.” Dr Khalid Ranjha said now they are in court’s loco parentis (parent jurisdiction).The chief justice said, Rinkle Kumari, an intermediate girl, in her statement mentioned that she converted to Islam and got married with Naveed Shah of her free will. After seeing her mother changed the statement and now saying she was abducted and forced to become Muslim.The chief justice said that these are our daughters and not anyone else and it’s their responsibility to protect the week segment of the society. Justice Khilji remarked, “We have respect for all the religions and have to protect the people belonging to minority community.” He said when a girl or boy of any religion marries with his or her free will then there is no need to involve the religion. Justice Tariq Pervaiz said, “We also have to see this factor that in India Muslim girls convert to Hinduism.”Mujeeb Pirzada, counsel for Rinkle husband’s parents, argued that the Sindh High Court has given order for the solitary confinement. He prayed the court that the girls’ parents should be allowed to meet with their daughters. The court observed that if somebody wanted to meet the girls then that should happen with the court permission.Earlier, the girls were brought to the courtroom in tight security. No one was allowed to meet them. The chief justice on the conclusion of the hearing ordered the police to take the girls in safe custody to Karachi and keep them at Panah, a shelter home run by former judge Majida Rizvi.The court adjourned the hearing till April 18.In the last hearing the court had directed the Inspector General of Police Sindh to take all necessary steps for effecting recovery of the females of the Hindu community and produce them before the court on March 26.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 27-Mar-2012 here.