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Pakistan, India Trade Barbs Over Alleged Religious Conversion Of Hindu Girls

Pakistani Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry (file photo)
Pakistani Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry (file photo)

Reports of an alleged kidnapping and religious conversion of two Hindu teenage sisters to Islam in mostly Muslim Pakistan last week has triggered a spat between the country and its neighbor India.

Pakistani police have detained at least seven people for their suspected involvement in the alleged abductions, forced conversions, and marriages of the two minors, Dawn newspaper reported on March 25.

The previous day, Pakistani Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the country was "totally behind the girls" and that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the government of Sindh Province to investigate the incident.

Police said they had registered a complaint of kidnapping and robbery by the teenagers' parents.

In India, where Hinduism is the largest religion, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she had asked the country's high commissioner in Islamabad to send a report on a news article on the allegations.

Replying to Swaraj's tweet, Chaudhry asked the Indian government to look after India’s own minority Muslims.

"Madam Minister, I am happy that in the Indian administration we have people who care for minority rights in other countries," the Pakistani minister said.

"I sincerely hope that your conscience will allow you to stand up for minorities at home as well. Gujarat and Jammu must weigh heavily on your soul," he added.

“I only asked for a report from Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad about the kidnapping and forced conversion of two minor Hindu girls to Islam,” Swaraj later tweeted. “This was enough to make you jittery. This only shows your guilty conscience.”

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in three months of religious riots in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.

In Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state, the Indian-administered part of Kashmir, Islamabad accuses Indian authorities of human rights violations, a charge New Delhi denies.

With reporting by Reuters