A man identified as Wahid Bux Lashari has been booked and arrested for the murder of his young Hindu neighbour, Pooja Odh, in Sindh. The girl was shot dead reportedly after she resisted the man’s attempt to kidnap her at gunpoint.
The man was remanded in police custody for ten days, as reported in Dawn. The 18-year-old Hindu girl was allegedly shot and killed in Sukkur on March 21 for refusing Lashari’s marriage proposal, which would have entailed her forced conversion. The murder drew national and international condemnation. Video of her grieving mother circulated on social media.
Police said that the suspect forcibly entered Pooja’s house and demanded she accompany him back to his home. When the girl refused, Lashari pulled out his gun. At her further resistance, Lashari shot her, then fled the scene. Police have retrieved the murder weapon.
Every year, several women belonging to minority communities, especially Hindus in Sindh, are abducted and forcibly converted by religious extremists. Pakistan’s minority communities have long faced the issue of forced marriages and conversions. According to the Peoples Commission for Minorities’ Rights and the Centre for Social Justice, 156 incidents of forced conversions took place between 2013 and 2019.
In 2019, the Sindh government attempted to outlaw forced conversions and marriages for the second time, but certain religious protestors contested the bill, arguing that these girls are not forced to convert but do so after falling in love with Muslim men, and the law was rejected.