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‘Forced conversion’ leads to unrest in Kashmir : Calls for legislation

As protests took place across Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi, Srinagar and Anantnag over the forcible conversion of four Sikh women to Islam, the Sikh community took to the streets. The highways in Kathua and Jammu were blocked. Giani Harpreet Singh, the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, wrote to the LG requesting an anti-conversion law.

A group of Sikhs gathered outside the Jammu and Kashmir Bhawan. Jag Aasra Guru Ott (Jago), a religious party registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, led the protest. Manjit Singh G.K., the party president, said the protest was held to call for an anti-conversion law in Jammu and Kashmir. According to him, they have also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister regarding the same.

In Srinagar, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said they have discussed the issue with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha. ‘Two days have passed since we began protesting. Four women have been forcibly converted, including an 18-year-old who was married to a middle-aged man, and it was claimed that she had done so of her own free will, It is unfortunate that even the judicial system failed to do a fair trial’, Sirsa said.

Sirsa, who is also president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, arrived in Srinagar on Monday and staged a protest with a group of Sikhs. ‘The parents of the woman were not allowed in the courtroom, but all the relatives of the man were inside, so they could pressure the girl. Our community will not be able to tolerate this kind of behavior. It is not the fault of one woman, it is the fault of all of us’, he told at the press conference.

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According to the leader of the SAD, the Sikh community demands the return of the women to their families and a ban on such forced conversions. He stated that the LG has been sent a letter by the highest temporal authority requesting that the women be returned home immediately and that a law be framed to curb forced conversions.


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