INTERVIEW 2: NELA KOHLI
NELA KOHLI was only 11-years-old at the time of the interview. As you can probably decipher from the video, she and her family are living in a remote area. There is no electricity or water supply or proper road leading to her hiding place. We had to use car lights to provide lighting for the video.
They are living in a remote area because her kidnapper has threatened to kill them. This is why we cannot disclose her whereabouts.
Nela hails from a small town called Kot Ghulam Mohammed in district Mirpur Khas. She was abducted here on 3 October, 2014, while walking along a canal. She was grabbed by an AKBAR KOKER on motorbike.
He took her to the district's main town (main town and district have same name) where she was held captive for more than a month.
Her parents had no idea why she had gone missing.
Nela's parents went on a frantic search. It was by sheer coincidence Nela's mother (also seen in video) spotted her daughter in Mirpur Khas town one month after she had disappeared.
It was then they realized what had happened.
Nela's parents reported to the police that she had been abducted and held captive.
The police, however, refused to issue an FIR because they, presumably after speaking with Akbar or his family, declared that Nela was already married to this man and had "voluntarily" converted to Islam.
Therefore, in the eyes of the police, there is no case for kidnapping or forced conversion.
The parents, however, applied for a hearing in the local sessions court.
The court received Nela's statement. She declared she was 11-years-old. Under Pakistani statute law, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18.
CLEARLY, NELA CANNOT BE DECLARED MARRIED BECAUSE SHE IS UNDER-AGE.
The judge, therefore, had to return Nela to her parents.
However, it was observed that the judge failed to take action against kidnapper Akbar even though he had violently abducted Nela, kept her captive for a month, and declared to the court that she was his wife (which implies he has committed a crime by marrying a child).
Yet, at the time of the interview, Akbar was walking the streets a free man.
In contrast, Nela's mother had earlier been thrown out of the police station when she insisted the police issue an FIR.
Again in contrast, the kidnapper's mother also turned up at the station and claimed she was Nela's mother. This pretender issued a statement that she had no problem about "her daughter" converting to Islam. The police believed the pretender.
Also note, the judge NEVER used the word "kidnap" or made reference that a kidnapping had occurred, when he issued his verdict, according to a person who had observed the case.
Nela was returned only because she was under-aged for marriage. The judge could not over-ride the written law here.
In other words, one can infer from the judge's conduct that he chose NOT TO ACKNOWLEDGE Nela had been kidnapped.
Kidnapper Akbar is thus roaming the streets a free man. In contrast, Nela's poverty-stricken family has had to flee their home and are living in a secluded location because they fear Akbar poses a threat to their lives. A landlord has allowed them to live on his land. They live in a makeshift hut.
Nela's family are agricultural labourers.
In contrast, Akbar's family is relatively prosperous. They have the financial means to bribe the police and pay for fake documentation such as false marriage certificates.
However, corruption and poverty only explains a part of the problem the Kohlis have faced.
The key problem is the mindset of the local authorities.
A member of the Hindu community who followed the proceedings says it is very clear from the conduct of the police as well as the judge, that the judiciary's sympathies lie with the kidnapper. He says it is because of religion. The police and courts are almost entirely staffed by Muslims, which comprise 97% of the country's population. Islam is also the official state religion.
This writer concurs with this view because he has observed the judicial authorities exhibiting the same attitude in ALL the four interviews he conducted. This observation has also been backed up with newspaper articles that have been attached to this Report.
Pakistan (which means "Land of The Pure") was created as a homeland for the subcontinent's Muslims and as a protector of Islam. Therefore, a "non-Muslim Pakistani" is a contradiction of terms. How can a Pakistani call oneself "Pakistani" (a "pure person" ) if he or she is not Muslim?
In addition, Nela's poverty (as in the case of Chandervati) had positioned her as an easy target for exploitation. Her family's poverty has made it impossible for them to afford a lawyer. In addition, thanks to illiteracy, they do not know how to fight for their rights, if they have any in the first place.
The writer of this Report nevertheless reiterates that they face severe discrimination because they are Hindus living within a sea of over-powering religious intolerance.
Pakistani school text-books project Hindus as infidels and as people not worthy of respect. This shapes a negative and harmful mindset towards Hinduism and Hindus.
The writer quotes a Muslim student, quoted in an article published 27 February, 2012, to illustrate how this "mindset" has permeated the sinews of Pakistani society:
" "Hindus are non-believers. They believe in many gods, not one, and are heretics. So they should be converted," said Abdul Mannan, 20, a Muslim student. He said he would be willing to marry a Hindu girl, if asked to by his teachers, "because conversions brought big rewards from Allah [God]. But later I will marry a 'real' Muslim girl as my second wife," he said."
The article was published by IRINNEWS.org, an independent and non-profit media organization that was started by the United Nations. [ VIEW ARTICLE ]
The above "mindset" was clearly discernible in the conduct of the judge.
This non-action or indifference of the judiciary only sends a signal to Akbar and other prospective kidnappers that the "system" subconsciously tolerates this abusive conduct, thus motivating men to continue abducting and forcibly converting (and raping) Hindu (and Christian) girls.
It is visibly clear to anyone watching the video that Nela is a child. She does not need to be put through a medical test to ascertain she is below 18-years age.
The writer did not ask whether she was raped. He, however, leaves it to your commonsense to decide whether the abductor was likely to have left her untouched. The writer did not ask because he did not want to risk distressing the child or her parents.
The family lives in insecurity and they do not know what the future holds for them. There is no guarantee they will be allowed to live at present location forever. But, in the same breath, they fear returning to their home because the kidnapper can strike again.
Nela was targeted because she was Hindu (a
socially weak and suppressed community within Pakistani society); and she hailed
from an illiterate and economically downtrodden part of society. These factors
intertwined to position her as an easy target for abuse.
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