Sushma Swaraj expresses concerns over forced religious conversion of sikhs in Pakistan

NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that she will take up issue of alleged forced conversions of Sikhs in Hangu district of Pakistan to the highest level with the government of Pakistan. Her tweet came after the Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amridender Singh requested her to look into the issue.

“We will take this up at the highest level with Government of Pakistan. Sikh community in Hangu being forced to convert,” she said on Twitter, tagging the official handle of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan in the tweet.

Earlier in the day, Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had taken to Twitter to apprise Swaraj of the alleged forced conversions, urging her to take up the matter at the highest level with Pakistani authorities.

On December 16, Pakistani publication Tribune had reported that a government official was forcing members of the Sikh community in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province’s Hangu district to convert to Islam.

The community members have lodged a complaint with the deputy commissioner of Hangu, alleging that they were being forced to convert to Islam by assistant commissioner tehsil Tall Yaqoob Khan.

“We the residents of Doaba area are being tortured religiously… The Constitution empowers us to defend our religious beliefs against anyone and we want you to call AC Tall Yaqoob Khan and inquire the issue,” the complaint read.

In its defence, the district administration said there was no issue of converting someone forcefully to Islam and the authorities had ensured religious freedom. However, taking cognizance of their complaint, the Sikh community members had been invited to a meeting on Monday to address their grievances.

(With inputs from agencies)