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Indian Sikh woman pilgrim in Pak converts to Islam, remarries

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Chandigarh: An Indian Sikh woman from Punjab who went to Pakistan to attend Baisakhi festival has sought extension of her visa after marrying a Lahore-based Pakistani national and has reportedly embraced Islam.

Kiran Bala, daughter of Manohar Lal from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, wrote to the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) that her visa should be extended as she married one Mohammad Azam, resident of Lahore, during a ceremony held at Jamia Naeemia seminary in Lahore on April 16, Pakistan-based daily The Express Tribune reported.

She also changed her name to Amna Bibi which she used to sign the letter addressed to the foreign ministry, the report said.

“Now in the given circumstances, the undersigned could not return back to India and the undersigned have received life threats of assassination, therefore, the undersigned intends to extend her visa,” she wrote in the letter, published by the local media.

Meanwhile, back home, Kiran Bala’s 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.

Kiran Bala arrived in Pakistan on April 12 with other Sikh pilgrims to attend the festival in Gurdwara Panja Sahib located in Hasan Abdal near Islamabad. She reportedly went missing on April 16.

Her visa will expire on April 21.

The FO or the Indian High Commission have not said anything about the letter.

According to a report in NDTV, the husband of Bala, 31, died in 2013; she has three children. She had been living with her in-laws at a village in Punjab’s Garhshankar sub-division, 90 kilometres from Chandigarh.

“I had dropped my daughter-in-law with SGPC (gurdwara committee) officials in Amritsar on April 10 for the pilgrimage in Pakistan. The jatha is expected to return on April 21,” Tarsem Singh, the father-in-law, told reporters.

“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,” Singh, who is also a Sikh priest at the village, added.

He also alleged Kiran Bala could have been in touch with the Pakistani man (whom she has reportedly married) through social media, particularly Facebook. His daughter-in-law had been seen browsing Facebook on her mobile phone for the past one month, he said.

The ongoing Baisakhi festival is the fresh subject of controversy between Pakistan and India.

It has already created bitterness after India accused Pakistan of using it to incite Indian pilgrims on the issue of ‘Khalistan’, which was rejected by Islamabad.

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