Rin­kle’s new life raises old ques­tions

Ac­tivists sus­pect a rul­ing party leg­is­la­tor’s role in her con­ver­sion

India Today - - COVER STORY - By Bhavna Vij-aurora and Qaswar Ab­bas

Rin­kle Ku­mari’s case ex­em­pli­fies how po­lit­i­cal might and brute force are used to op­press Hin­dus in Pak­istan and forcibly con­vert girls. The role of a Pak­istan Peo­ples Party ( PPP) leg­is­la­tor, Mian Ab­dul Haq alias Mian Mitho, is be­ing ques­tioned by civil right ac­tivists.

Quot­ing re­ports in lo­cal news­pa­pers, they al­lege that Haq has been in­volved in buy­ing and sell­ing of Hindu girls, a charge he de­nies force­fully. Haq seems to have played a ma­jor role in the Rin­kle case as his sons and armed sup­port­ers roamed the roads of Ghotki in Sindh and the premises of the civil court with im­punity. It was in Haq’s house in Islamabad that IN­DIA TO­DAY met Rin­kle, now Fariyal Shah, on April 21. Her trans­for­ma­tion was com­plete and she was ready with a brand new story.

But with hus­band Naveed Shah wait­ing out­side in a white Land Cruiser, its en­gine run­ning, she had to make it quick. “I em­braced Is­lam just to marry the man of my own choice,’’ she said about the man she said she had never met be­fore in her state­ment to Pak­istan’s Supreme Court. Asked about Haq, she said, “Naveed and I al­ready knew that he en­cour­ages Hin­dus to con­vert to Is­lam and fa- cil­i­tate their mar­riage, be­sides giv­ing them pro­tec­tion.’’

Civil right ac­tivists do not buy Rin­kle’s new story and say the teenager is un­der pres­sure. Hu­man right ac­tivists, led by colum­nist Marvi Sirmed, de­manded at a press con­fer­ence in Islamabad on April 17 that Haq’s ac­tiv­i­ties be in­ves­ti­gated.

RIN­KLE KU­MARI (LEFT) WITH HER HUS­BAND NAVEED SHAH

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