Dubai: A simple love story of a young Muslim-Sikh couple who finally got married was blown out of proportion in Pakistan.
It's story of a Muslim boy Muhammad Hassan who married Jagjit Kaur, a girl from the Sikh community. They both live in the same town of Nankana Sahib, located some 75 km from Lahore, Pakistan.
They got married without the consent of girl’s family after her father, a Sikh priest, refused to let her marry a Muslim boy.
The issue was reported on social media as if the Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur was kidnapped and got married after her forced conversion to Islam.
The social media news went viral and almost brought otherwise friendly Sikh and Muslim communities in Pakistan at daggers drawn.
Even the Chief Minister of India's Punjab, Amarinder Singh, got involved and offered to help the Sikh family in Pakistan.
Some Sikh community members in Pakistan were outraged. Sikh leaders from around the world also chimed in, registering protest over the alleged "forced conversion".
They also urged Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to take action to protect the Sikh minority community in Pakistan.
Coincidentally, Imran Khan also addressed an International Sikh Convention held in Lahore on Monday when the media raised this issue.
Punjab governor steps in
However, Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Province Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar stepped in and sorted out the issue between the two families amicably.
“The issue of alleged forced conversion of a 19-year-old girl from Sikhism to Islam has been amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the concerned families” after negotiations between a high-level government delegation and a 30-member committee of the Sikh community, Sarwar announced on Tuesday.
In a tweet from his official account, Sarwar thanked both families for coming to the Governor's House in order to sort out the matter.
“Great news for Pakistani and Sikh communities across the world. Issue of Nankana girl was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the concerned families. The girl is safe and in touch with her family. We shall continue to ensure the rights of minorities in Pakistan!” Governor Sarwar tweeted.
Jagjit says she marries of her own free will
Despite governor’s plea, Jagjit Kaur earlier refused to go to her parent’s house in Nankana Sahib for fear of losing her life.
Governor Sarwar also met the girl at a shelter home in Lahore and requested her to go back to her family but she refused, citing the threat.
Jagjit, daughter of a Sikh priest, was then sent to Darul Aman (shelter home) on August 30 following a court order after she told the judge that she married Muhammad Hassan of her locality with of her own accord.
Jagjit told the governor that she loved Muhammad Hassan.
A top police official in Lahore told Gulf News that the case was blown out of proportion on social media and the Indian media.
“It was a simple love story. The girl’s parent did not allow her to marry a Muslim boy and they planned to get married without the consent of her parents. However, she converted to Islam to get married following Sharia (Islamic) way,” he explained.
The girl’s family got upset when they came to know about it and protested against the wedding and called it a forced conversion on gunpoint.
Police, he said, was also very cooperative with the girl’s family and a first information report (FIR) was also registered against six people in the case.
Police have arrested one of the suspects named Arsalan, a friend of the Muhammad Hassan, who is also the prime accused in the case and currently on a pre-arrest bail.
According to reports, Police on August 31 also detained 10 more people, including relatives and friends of Muhammad Hassan, in connection with the case.
The official said that the governor even told Jagjit that “her marrying a man outside her religion is becoming a religious matter and there has been tension in Nankana Sahib among Sikhs and Muslims, but she did not budge.”
The Sikh community in Nankana Sahib held protests demanding return of the girl back to her family.
Before the governor’s meeting with the girl, a Sikh delegation called on him to discuss the matter, Pakistani media reported.
Under pressure, the Punjab government constituted a high-level committee to negotiate with Sikhs angry over the kidnapping and forced conversion of the girl.
The committee told the family of the girl and the community members that she had embraced Islam of her free will after marrying Hassan.
It also provided them with video proof of Jagjit Kaur’s marriage and her conversion to Islam besides copies of the documents from the National Database and Registration Authority, showing her age as 19 years.
It also told them that Jagjit Kaur filed a writ petition against her family members before the Lahore High Court against the local police, accusing them of harassment.
The community members were informed by the committee that the girl also submitted a written statement in the court, stating that she had converted to Islam and married Muhammad Hassan of her own free will and accused her family of “plotting to kill her”.
Sikh community members thank Governor
A representative of the girl’s family and the Sikh community also thanked the government, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Punjab governor for intervening and resolving the matter.
Due to intervention by the authorities, boy’s father disowned his son and the girl in the presence of Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, girl’s brother and father at the Governor’s House.
The boy’s father, Zulfiqar, said that he or his family would not press the girl or approach any legal forum if she wished to go with her family. He assured to extend all kind of cooperation to the girl’s family.
According to APP, Bhagwan Singh, girl’s father, admired the role of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar in reconling the families, adding minorities were completely safe in Pakistan.
In his message, Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said he was grateful to both the families for resolving the dispute amicably on his request. Pakistan is home to approximately 20,000 Sikhs, though the real figure is unknown,