Punjab Sikh woman pilgrim converts to Islam, remarries in Pakistan

Chandigarh: A Sikh woman pilgrim from Hoshiarpur district has reportedly converted to Islam and married a Lahore-based Pakistan national, reports reaching her family in Punjab have indicated.

Her old father-in-law, Tarsem Singh, alleged on Thursday that his daughter-in-law could have fallen into the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and may have been forced to convert and remarry there.

The woman, Kiran Bala, who left for Pakistan on a pilgrimage as part of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) delegation on April 12, reportedly went missing on April 16.

She went to Pakistan on her Indian passport with Pakistan visa valid till April 21.

As per Pakistani media reports, the woman embraced Islam from Darul-Aloom Jamia Naeemia in Lahore on April 16 and later performed ‘nikah’ (marriage) with Muhammed Azam, a resident of Hanjarwal Multan Road in Lahore.

However, what is curious is that in her application for extension of the Pakistan visa, her name is typed as Amna Bibi while the signature has been done as Amina.

She has applied for extension of visa, citing “threats of assassination” to her life in India, before Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, said a news reports.

The News also posted pictures of the woman and her visa extension application on its website.

Around 1,700 Indian pilgrims had gone to Pakistan to visit Sikh shrines, including Panja Sahib Gurdwara near Lahore and Nankana Sahib — the birth place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, on the occasion of Baisakhi on April 13.

Kiran Bala, 31, a widow, is the mother of three. She was living with her in-laws at their village house in Garhshankar sub-division of Punjab, around 90 km from Chandigarh.

The children are with their aged grandparents. Their father had passed away in 2013.

“I had dropped my daughter-in-law with SGPC officials in Amritsar on April 10 for the pilgrimage in Pakistan. The ‘jatha’ is expected to return on April 21.

“I cannot believe what has happened. No one has contacted us officially from the SGPC and the foreign ministry. I want my daughter-in-law to be returned safely,” Tarsem Singh, a Sikh religious preacher in his village, told the media.

Tarsem Singh alleged that Kiran Bala could be in touch with the Pakistani man (whom she has reportedly married) through social media, particularly Facebook.

He alleged that she was using social media frequently on her mobile phone in the past one month.

The visit of the Indian pilgrims to Pakistan has been mired in controversies in the past one week with Pakistani agencies and officials denying permission to Indian embassy officials there from meeting the visiting delegation members.

Posters of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland, have also been put up at the places where the Indian delegation is visiting.

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