Srinagar: Following protests by Sikh groups in Jammu and Kashmir alleging that two women were ‘kidnapped, converted and married’ to men from a different religion in Srinagar, one of the women has dismissed the allegation and said that she married the man out of her own free will.
In a ten-minute-long video, viral on social media, one of the two women says that she is ’29-years-old and not a child’ and that the she was “not forced by anyone” for marrying a man from a different religion and she did it out of her own free will.
“Don’t bring the religion and minority into it, I know my rights that Supreme Court of India has given me,” the woman says in the viral video.
The woman said she converted in 2012 and married her batchmate Muzaffar legally and with consent in 2014.
However, accusations were earlier made that the woman was forced to convert and marry at gunpoint.
On Sunday, Akali Dal Leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa led a protest in Srinagar. He alleged that the 18-year-old Sikh woman was kidnapped at gunpoint, forcibly converted, and wedded to elderly men of a different religion.
Earlier in the day, a delegation from the Sikh community met the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir over the issue. Speaking to news agency NDTV, Sirsa said, “Home Minister Amit Shah has assured us about the safety of minority Sikh girls in the valley and that the girls would be soon returned to their families. He has given time to meet the Sikh delegation soon to discuss their concerns.”
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted about the controversy: “Any move to drive a wedge between Sikhs & Muslims in Kashmir will cause irreparable harm to J&K… I hope the authorities will move quickly to investigate the recent cause of tension and if anyone has broken the law the case should be prosecuted and necessary punishment handed out.”
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir’s Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam said that Sikh brethren are part and parcel of Kashmiri society and that there is no place for “forcible conversion in Islam” and reports of forcible conversion of Sikh girl to other religion on a gun-point can never be considered as a conversion in Islamic jurisprudence.
“First of all, there is no place for conversion by force in Islam. Conversion to Islam has to be by one’s conviction and choice without any force or compulsion,” Mufti Nasir said, adding that Sikhs are part and parcel of the Kashmiri community and no one will be allowed to disrespect their faith in the Valley.
He said Kashmir is known for maintaining communal harmony for years together and Sikhs are an important part of Kashmir’s age-old culture, ethos, and communal brotherhood. “No one will be allowed to play with the faith of Sikh brethren. There should be strict action against wrongdoers,” he said.
President of All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) Jagmohan Singh Raina cautioned the people of the “Miscreants” who are disturbing the communal harmony over the forced “interfaith Marriage” of a Sikh girl.
Sikh leader Jagmohan Raina said, “The incident of the forced marriage of a Sikh girl with a Muslim boy was pre-planned and backed by some powerful people, who even didn’t allow her parents to go inside the court, where the girl was manipulated and forced to sign marriage papers”.
He confirmed that only after the protests on Sunday, the administration handed over the girl to her family.
Raina added that some people are disturbing the communal harmony and claimed that they are provoking people to foment trouble and blaze the peaceful environment of the valley to leave a wrong impression about Kashmir throughout the world.
Raina while cautioning the people of such elements said, “Since ages, we are living together with brotherhood and this age-old bond cannot be broken with such conspiracies”.