Two Pakistani Hindu Sisters Placed Under Protection After Conversion, Marriage

A court in Pakistan has ordered protection for two sisters from the mostly Muslim country's Hindu minority, as investigators are trying to determine whether they were abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry two Muslims.

The Islamabad High Court issued the order on March 26, saying that the sisters had petitioned the tribunal seeking protection for themselves and their husbands.

The four, all from the southern town of Ghotki, were sent to separate government shelters.

According to police, the sisters' parents said that their daughters were 13 and 15 years old, but their lawyer told the court in Islamabad that one of them was 20, according to the Dawn newspaper.

It said that a government representative had told the judge that the probe would be completed within a week.

In their petition, the sisters said they had left their home on March 20 without informing their family because of threats to their lives, and willingly converted to Islam, Dawn reported.

After leaving their native town of Ghotki in Sindh Province, the two petitioners travelled to Punjab Province and later to Islamabad.

Reports said that several suspects had been detained in the case, including a cleric who performed the wedding last week.

Underage marriage is illegal in Pakistan but the law is often ignored.

Based on reporting by AP, Dawn, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal