Islamabad: Unidentified armed men kidnapped a three-year-old Hindu girl in Pakistan's Sindh province, triggering a protest by members of the minority community who asked authorities to trace the child immediately.
Residents of Kashmore in Sindh organised a sit-in protest outside a police station yesterday to protest the kidnapping of the girl named Anchal from Hindu Mohalla on Wednesday night.
Anchal had reportedly gone to a temple with her eight-year-old sister Kashish and her mother on Wednesday.
When the sisters stepped out of the temple to buy some snacks, three armed men grabbed Anchal and fled.
The kidnapped girl's father, Ganesh Chand, who runs a cable TV network, told The Express Tribune newspaper that his daughters were eating snacks outside the temple when the armed men arrived on a motorcycle.
The men first tried to grab hold of a boy but he managed to escape, following which they grabbed Anchal and sped off.
Chand said one of the kidnappers, who was holding Anchal, fell off the motorcycle after travelling a distance of about 30 meters.
As people rushed towards him, his accomplices threatened to open fire, forcing them to back off.
Police have had no success in tracing the kidnappers so far.
Kashmore district police chief Syed Asad Raza Shah said the kidnappers had managed to cross over to neighbouring Balochistan province.
The Express Tribune reported that police were yet to register a case.
The Hindu Panchayat and Shahree Action Committee called for a strike yesterday to protest this lapse and all markets and shopping centres in Kashmore remained closed.
Hundreds of people, including Shahree Action Committee chief Qadir Nawaz Jakhrani and Chand, gathered outside the police station.
They shouted slogans against the police and demanded that the girl should be recovered immediately.
Jakhrani condemned the police for their failure to control crime, especially cases of kidnapping-for-ransom.
"Neither the police nor the elected representatives are taking any interest in working towards curbing crime... It feels like that they (police and elected representatives) want us to leave the district," he said.
Traders and other Hindus live with the stress of kidnappings, said Jakhrani, who criticised the parliamentarian and legislator who represent Kashmore.
The head of the Sukkur chapter of the Hindu Panchayat, Mukhi Eshwar Lal, expressed anxiety about the "lawlessness in Kashmore" and said that "the Hindus are being targeted particularly in this district, which is condemnable".
Earlier, Hindus were targeted in other districts like Ghotki, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Sukkur though the situation improved after Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza issued directives to police to crack down on such crimes, said Eshwar Lal.
He said the situation continued to be bad in Kashmore district, where Hindu children are often kidnapped for ransom.
Eshwar Lal appealed to the President, Prime Minister and provincial Home Minister to take notice of the kidnappings and to post "dedicated police officers" in Kashmore to control the law and order situation.