Indian Sikh woman embraces Islam, remarries in Pakistan
(1 month ago)
Chandigarh, April 19 : A Sikh woman from Punjab's Hoshiarpur district who went to Pakistan on a pilgrimage has reportedly embraced Islam and married a Lahore-based Pakistani man, according to her family which alleged that she may have fallen into the hands of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and forced to convert and remarry.
The family of the woman, Kiran Bala, 31, said on Thursday that they had no official communication from any quarter about her well-being and current status. The family is based in a village in Garhshankar sub-division of Punjab's Hoshiarpur district, around 110 km from here.
The woman left for Pakistan on the pilgrimage as part of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) delegation on April 12 and reportedly went missing on April 16. She went to Pakistan on her Indian passport with a Pakistani visa valid till April 21.
Reports reaching her family in Punjab indicated that the woman embraced Islam at Darul-Aloom Jamia Naeemia in Lahore on April 16 and later had a "nikah" (marriage) with Pakistani national Muhammed Azam.
Her elderly father-in-law, Tarsem Singh, alleged that his daughter-in-law could have fallen into the hands of the ISI and may have been forced to convert and remarry there.
However, what is curious is that in her application for extension of the Pakistan visa, her name was mentioned as Amna Bibi while the signature was done as Amina.
She applied for extension of the visa, citing "threats of assassination" to her life in India, before Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry, according to a report in the Pakistani media.
Another report in the News daily also posted pictures of the woman and her visa extension application on its website.
"I had dropped my daughter-in-law with SGPC officials in Amritsar on April 10 for the pilgrimage in Pakistan. The 'jatha' is expected to return on April 21.
"I cannot believe what has happened. No one has contacted us officially from the SGPC and the Foreign Ministry. I want my daughter-in-law to be returned safely," Singh, a Sikh religious preacher in his village, told the media.
He alleged that Kiran Bala could be in touch with the Pakistani man (whom she reportedly married) through Facebook as she was using social media frequently on her mobile phone in the past one month.
Around 1,700 Indian pilgrims had gone to Pakistan to visit Sikh shrines, including Panja Sahib Gurdwara near Lahore and Nankana Sahib -- the birth place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, on the occasion of Baisakhi on April 13.
Kiran Bala, 31, a widow, is a mother of three and was living with her children and in-laws at their village. Her husband passed away in 2013.
The visit of the Indian pilgrims to Pakistan has been mired in controversies in the past one week with Pakistani agencies and officials denying permission to Indian Embassy officials there to meet the visiting delegation members.
India strongly took up the matter with Pakistan earlier this week. Posters of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland, were also put up at the places where the Indian delegation was visiting.