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India summons Pak official, lodges protest over kidnapping of Hindu woman

India on Tuesday summoned a senior official of the Pakistan high commission and registered a strong protest over the alleged abduction of a woman from the Hindu minority during her wedding ceremony, people familiar with developments said.

The family of Bharti Bai, a 24-year-old Hindu woman from Hala in Pakistan’s Sindh province, has alleged she was kidnapped by unidentified people when she was set to be married to a Hindu man. A Muslim man has claimed she converted to Islam and married him last December.

The people cited above said the official of the Pakistan high commission was summoned to the external affairs ministry and served a strong demarche or a formal diplomatic correspondence against the alleged abduction of the Hindu woman from her marriage ceremony on January 25 with the help of police in Hala city.

India also served the Pakistani official a separate demarche regarding the desecration of Mata Rani Bhatiyani temple at Tharparkar in Sindh on January 26.

The Indian side asked the Pakistan government to investigate these incidents and take “urgent action for protecting and promoting the security, safety and welfare of its citizens, including the minority Hindu community in Pakistan”, said a person who declined to be identified.

The Pakistani side was also asked to take “immediate measures to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of such despicable and heinous acts to justice”, the person said.

Kishore Das, the father of Bharti Bai, said his daughter’s marriage was underway when the alleged kidnapper, Shah Rukh Gul, came with several men and policemen and took her away. Later, a picture showing Bharti Bai with documents regarding her conversion to Islam and marriage to Shah Rukh went viral on social media.

The documents purportedly showed she had converted to Islam on December 1 last year. The Jamiat-ul-Uloom Islamia, located at Banuri town in Karachi, issued the certificate of conversion.

A first information report (FIR) was registered on Monday against four people for vandalising Mata Rani Bhatiyani temple in a village near Chhachro town. According to the FIR, the temple was desecrated by four unidentified people on Sunday night.

India and Pakistan have traded angry charges in recent weeks over the treatment of minorities against the backdrop of heightened tensions and the deterioration of bilateral relations over several issues.

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