She escaped from forced conversion and marriage after 14 months. She has now been abducted again.
by Marco Respinti
It looked like a rare, if partial, happy ending. One of the Hindu girls kidnapped and forcibly married to a Muslim man in Pakistan escaped and returned home. Unfortunately, she has now been kidnapped for the second time.
On January 31, 2022, Meena Kohli, a nineteen-year-old Hindu girl who had married a co-religionist only three days before, and her minor sister Rekha, who is 12, were both kidnapped at gunpoint from their father’s home in the village of Durlo Hingorjo in Khipro Tehsil, Sindh.
Their family and the Hindu community denounced the kidnappers, a Muslim man called Iqbal Bhambro and his father Mushtaq, to the local authorities and started organizing public protests.
On February 20, 2022, a video was sent to local media by the Bhambro family where Meena read a statement saying that she had willingly converted to Islam and married Iqbal freely (although when she was abducted, she had in fact just married somebody else). Her conversion and marriage certificates were also sent to the media.
This persuaded the police to stop any action, although the whereabouts of Meena’s younger sister Rekha remained unknown.
On April 10, 2023, a surprising development occurred. Meena reappeared at her parents’ home claiming she had adventurously escaped from her “husband.” She came with an infant son she had given birth to in the meantime. She issued a statement, in turn sent to the media and the authorities, claiming that she was forced to record the February 20, 2022, declaration, after having been forcibly converted to Islam and raped not only by Iqbal but by other members of the Bhambro family as well. She confirmed her story before the Khipro Session Court on April 20.
On May 18, 2023, the Sindh High Court in Hyderabad opened a case against Iqbal Bhambro and his relatives. Nobody was arrested, however.
On June 25, 2023, while Meena, her child, and her mother were on their way to a medical visit in the local hospital, Iqbal and three other men assaulted them again. Meena was abducted for the second time, while her mother was injured.
A few days ago, the story repeated itself as the Bhambros sent a video to the media where Meena again stated she followed Iqbal out of her free will.
The statement is obviously not credible, and there is still no explanation about what happened to the 12-year-old Rekha. The Kohlis and the Hindu community are again protesting and soliciting a decisive court intervention in what is yet another case of abduction, rape, forced conversion, and false marriage in Pakistan.