Family pursues justice for Christian teen kidnapped, forced to convert and marry in Pakistan

The family of Muskan Elisia, a 15-year-old Christian Pakistani student from Sindh, is actively seeking justice following her abduction and forced marriage to a Muslim man. Elisia was reportedly kidnapped from her residence on the morning of March 11, 2024, and her whereabouts remain unknown.

Before her kidnapping, Elisia had faced repeated threats and harassment from Arsalan Ali, a young man in her community. According to Danish Saleem, Elisia’s brother, she frequently reported to their mother that Ali harassed her en route to school, insisting on marriage despite her clear rejections. “Elisia found Ali’s advances repulsive and felt powerless to stop him,” Saleem explained.

In an attempt to address the ongoing harassment, their mother approached Ali’s family. “She spoke to the elders at Ali’s house to convey the severe distress his actions were causing our family,” Saleem stated. The family admonished Ali, assuring her that such behavior would not recur. Despite these assurances, the harassment persisted, ultimately leading to Elisia’s mysterious disappearance.

Salman Masih, Elisia’s father, suspects she was taken in the early hours of that fateful morning, likely between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. “My grandfather discovered her room open and her bed unoccupied around 5:30 am, which alarmed us all,” Masih recounted, highlighting the family’s distress.

Upon noticing Elisia’s disappearance, her family immediately contacted the local police to report the incident, highlighting the prior harassment by Arsalan Ali. However, the police did not register the complaint immediately, opting instead for a preliminary investigation before taking formal action. This delay in procedural response was further compounded by a lack of urgency in visiting the alleged crime scene.

“We were desperate for the police to search Arsalan’s residence, but their arrival was delayed beyond the promised time,” Masih expressed. “Despite our repeated pleas for intervention, the police offered only excuses and delayed their response until the afternoon, ultimately failing to appear.” This inaction allowed the suspects to orchestrate their evasion from law enforcement scrutiny potentially.

By the time the police searched Ali’s residence, all the male family members had absconded. It remains unclear whether the female members present during the search were thoroughly questioned. Masih suspects that the delay in handling their complaint was intentional.

The police have since detained a person associated with Ali, who admitted that Elisia was initially in their custody but claimed she was transferred to another group associated with religious clergy the day before the police’s intervention.

The family of Elisia was presented with documents claiming that she had willingly converted to Islam and married Ali. These documents included a letter indicating that her name had been changed to reflect a Muslim identity following the marriage, and her birthdate was altered to present her as a 20-year-old adult, ostensibly to legitimize the marriage. The documents purported that she converted to Islam of her own accord.

Masih, Elisia’s father, vehemently disputed the authenticity of these documents. “These documents, with manipulated and incorrect dates, were fabricated by the accused to legally justify the acts of abduction, rape, and forced conversion,” Masih stated. “We are extremely concerned for Muskan’s safety and urgently call on the authorities to deliver justice for her. We implore them to aid in her release and help alleviate the profound mental anguish that has consumed our family.”

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