MEA Summons Pakistan High Commission Official Over Alleged Abduction of Hindu Girls

The abduction of the two minors was first highlighted by Shiromani Akali Dal leader Maninder Singh Sirsa.

New Delhi: India has summoned a senior official of the Pakistan high commission over the alleged abduction two minor Hindu girls, after they were first reported by a leader of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The party also led a delegation to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday.

On Friday evening, Indian government sources said that a Pakistan high commission official was summoned to the MEA to “lodge strong protest and share serious concerns about the recent cases of abduction of minor girls belonging to the minority Hindu community of Pakistan”.

Government sources claimed that there were two separate cases of abduction. “As per reports, two minor girls, Shanti Meghwad and Sarmi Meghwad, belonging to the minority Hindu community were abducted on 14 January 2020. They belong to Umar Village, Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan. In another incident, a minor girl, Mehak, also belonging to the minority Hindu community, was abducted from the Jacobabad district of Sindh province in Pakistan on 15 January 2020,” they said.

Accordingly, India has conveyed to Pakistan “grave concerns as expressed amongst various quarters of the Indian civil society at such a shocking and deplorable incident involving minor girls from the minority Hindu community in Pakistan”.

“The incidents have been strongly condemned and asked for immediate safe return of the girls to their families,” added government sources.

This is not the first time that the Indian government has summoned Pakistani diplomats over cases which highlight atrocities against minorities in Pakistan. The last time that India had expressed concerns was on January 6 over a mob laying siege at Nankana Sahib in matters related to the abduction of a Sikh girl.

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Pakistani media had been the first to report about the evolving situation in the initial hours of the Nankana Sahib incident, before the Pakistan government stepped in for some damage control. There had been a surfeit of videos circulating on social media showing the provocative speeches delivered by the leaders of the mob.

While Indian government sources had claimed that two cases were “as per reports”, the only media reports that referred to the two incidents were of Shiromani Akali Dal leader Maninder Singh Sirsa claiming that another Hindu girl had been abducted.

The SAD leader had previously tweeted about the two alleged incidents in the early hours of Friday.

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As per a media report, Sirsa claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act is the “first ray of hope” for minorities in Pakistan. It is not clear how CAA will help minorities currently residing in Pakistan, as the Act only provides for fast-track citizenship for non-Muslim illegal migrants if they had already arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014.

A Punjab-centric news portal, Yes Punjab, published a photograph along with a news report of a delegation of the Delhi Gurudwara Management Committee, led by Sirsa, handing over a memorandum over the alleged abduction of three Hindu girls to the MEA joint secretary in charge of Pakistan desk, Deepak Mittal on Friday.

The report quoted Sirsa as having told reporters that the MEA officials had assured him that India would take up the matter with the Pakistan high commission officials “today itself”.