Islamabad: NCHR hears case of Christian victim of forced conversion

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National Commission for Human Rights hears case of a Christian girl forced to convert after abduction. Prominent Christian educationist Professor Anjum James Paul had been urging authorities to secure recovery of the missing Christian girl Sana Shahid. For this reason, Professor Anjum met with the Chairman of National Commission for Human Rights and discussed the progress in this case.

Forced conversions in Pakistan

Former Chief Justice of Pakistan (Retd) Ali Nawaz Chauhan who now heads National Commission for Human Rights, presided the meeting. Professor Anjum, Reverend Father Sarfraz Simon, Romana Bashir and others were also present during the meeting held on April 26, Wednesday. Professor Anjum stated that he shall continue with the case until the girl is recovered from the custody of the abductors.

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According to details, Sana Shahid a Christian student who hails from Sialkot, was abducted and forcibly married to a Muslim man. The abductor Wahid Akhtar, son of Muhammad Bashir, resident of Mohallah Kasayian, Rodes Road, Mianapura, Sialkot had abducted Sana Shahid while she was on her way to her school. Sana was a student at Government Girls Primary School, Mianapura (West) Sialkot.

The abductor had presented a marriage certificate before the court claiming that she had married him and converted out of her free will. Sana’s family claims and has credible proof that Sana was legally below the age of getting married. However, the forged marriage certificate claims that Sana was 18 years of age. Family of the abductee is suffering from severe trauma. Her brother and sister Hina had left school, while Hina her sister was facing psychological difficulties after the incident.

According to Sana’s birth registration certificate issued by Punjab Government, Catholic Church Certificate and School leaving certificate he date of birth is April 17, 2002. In line with these documents it was safely proven that she was 13-years old at the time of abduction.

In a letter to the Government of Punjab, Professor Anjum James Paul had maintained that Wahid Akhtar had committed a crime according to Article 20 (a), Article 25 (a), and Artice 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan. Also, he had violated Pakistan Penal Code section 365 B, Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 of the land law, and National Action Plan 2014 regarding ‘religious persecution’.