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Politicians boycott Hindu festival

Minority community 'needs development projects, stronger legislation and security'

Christians celebrating Holy with Hindus in Lahore Christians celebrating Holy with Hindus in Lahore
  • ucanews.com reporter, Lahore
  • Pakistan
  • April 4, 2012
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Hindu leaders protesting forced conversions have said a decision by minority politicians to boycott government-sponsored functions during Holi, a Hindu festival, have put pressure on the government to act.

“Our teenagers are being forcefully converted at gunpoint and the Ministry of Interfaith Harmony, instead of extending genuine cooperation, plans to spend millions on such programs,” said National Assembly member Ramesh Lal.

“The minority community needs development projects, stronger legislation and security,” said Lal, one of several Hindu politicians who had asked the ministry to cancel all forthcoming Holi-related festivities yesterday.

The boycott came amid ongoing proceedings at the supreme court in Islamabad over the alleged kidnapping of two Hindu girls, who were subsequently married to Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam.

The Pakistan Hindu Council called the boycott of the Holi festival a success for the campaign to recover the two girls.

“We were trying to increase pressure on the government,” said Ramesh Kumar, a former legislator and chair of the council, which is collecting data on forced conversions.

“Five hundred Hindu girls have been kidnapped and converted since 2007. They can neither protect their honor nor their faith. Most of them are later sold and many commit suicide,” Kumar said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said that more than 20 cases of forced conversions and marriage of Hindu girls take place each month.

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