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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Hindus protest at 'Muslim abduction'
About 500 Hindu women in Pakistan's Sindh province have been protesting at what they believe is the abduction of a teenage Hindu girl by a Muslim youth.

Hindu women
More than 400,000 Hindus live in Sindh
The unprecedented protest has been taking place in Jacobabad district, about 500 kilometres (350 miles) from Karachi.

Hindu leaders told the BBC the protests would continue until Soni - the 16 year-old girl - was found.

Soni's father rejected suggestions she had eloped with a local Muslim shopkeeper.

Police say that on 26 June, a formal complaint was lodged that Soni, daughter of shopkeeper Ashok Kumar, had been abducted three days earlier by a Muslim.


Head of the Hindu Panchayat in Jacobabad, Babu Mahesh Kumar, said their demonstrations would continue until they knew where the girl was.

Ashok Kumar told the BBC his daughter was already engaged to a Hindu and denied reports she had run off with the Muslim man, who is said to have a shop in the area where the Hindu family lives.

The investigating officer, Mohammed Akram, told the BBC the Muslim man had gone to Balochistan and police were unable to detain him.

A local Hindu leader, Kishan Lal, said this was the fourth case of abduction of a Hindu woman in the district during the last year.

He said about 20 women had been abducted throughout Sindh province over the same period.

The Hindu population of Sindh is estimated to be more than 400,000.

Community leaders allege that the women who are abducted are forced to convert to Islam and marry their captors.

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