Missing Priya Kumari

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Child abduction in Pakistan is not an unfamiliar and unlamented nuisance. It is only a matter of the magnitude of visibility each case receives. Dozens of unfortunate children gone missing are never able to make it to headlines for one or the other reason, while those that do, may not necessarily earn the fate and influence of Dua Zehra of Karachi.

The abduction of seven-year-old Priya Kumari, some two years back, has not just shaken the regional Hindu community of her hometown, Sukkur, but also drawn international voices as India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring state-backed abduction of the girl as part of schematic violation of Hindus’ rights and safety. The case has been dormant since Priya went missing during an Ashura procession while serving the mourners with water and drinks. While this explains much about the law and order pattern of our legal institution, it also speaks of the disturbing pattern of life-threatening chaos endured by the Hindu community in Pakistan.

Abduction of seven-year-old Kumari some two years back has shaken the regional Hindu community of her hometown Sukkur

Inarguably, child abduction cases in Pakistan do not have a track record of effective pursuit. Priya’s case has been given a silent treatment over the last two years until a social media campaign was recently started, followed by a rally that jolted the provincial government back into action. Subsequently, a Joint Investigation Team has been constituted to pursue the case afresh.

Every year, a large number of religious minority girls and women in Pakistan are reported to fall victim to abduction, rape and forced conversion. Priya’s abduction, followed by the provincial government’s questionable response, hints at the broad grounds of persecution and gross human rights violation of the vulnerable minority communities in Pakistan. Human rights advocacy in Pakistan, thus, calls for a strategic plan of action to implement protection rights of minorities so as to promote religious harmony in the country.

Editorial Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2024.

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