Conversion and Marriage of a 13-Year-Old Hindu Girl to Islam

In the early hours of April 22, 2024, a 13-year-old girl from the Gujarati community, named Neena, mysteriously vanished from her family home in Kot Ghulam Mohammad. Her family discovered her disappearance at dawn. They suspect Mehdi Hassan, also known as Mido Khaskheli, was involved in her sudden absence.

Reports suggest that shortly after her disappearance, Mehdi facilitated Neena’s conversion to Islam at the Pir Sarhandi shrine, where he subsequently married her. Mehdi, who is already married and a father of three, is significantly older than Neena. This situation has sparked intense concerns and queries regarding the legality and ethics of his second marriage without his first wife’s consent.

Neena’s brother, Jeevan, expressed his family’s dismay and confusion over how a married man could engage in another marriage so casually. Distressingly, when Neena’s father, Ashok, sought to initiate a First Information Report (FIR) with the local police, his efforts were met with resistance. The police allegedly delayed the process, possibly providing Mehdi with ample time to finalize the conversion and marriage.

The incident has left Neena’s family, including her two siblings, feeling powerless. Their plight is compounded by apparent police collusion in facilitating the religious conversion and marriage, rather than protecting the minor.

Human rights activist Shiva Kachhi highlighted that this case is not an isolated incident but part of a disturbing pattern where law enforcement appears to support the conversion and marriage of minors. Despite the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which prohibits marriage before reaching the age of majority, the enforcement of this law remains lax.

Jeevan vowed that his family would continue to fight for Neena’s return, emphasizing the critical nature of their struggle to uphold her rights and bring her home. The case has raised significant concerns about the enforcement of laws designed to protect children and the role of authorities in safeguarding vulnerable minors.

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