A case has been registered against a police officer and 15 others for forcing a teenaged girl into marriage on Wednesday.
Following an inquiry into the involvement of the police, a station house officer (SHO) has been suspended from service.
The inquiry had proven that Lassan Nawab SHO Shad Muhammad Khan and 15 others were guilty of forcing Anila* into marriage with a man in his fifties, Deputy Superintendent of Police Headquarters Ejaz Goga told The Express Tribune. Even though the SHO has been suspended, no arrest was made till the time the story was filed.
Anila, a resident of Jaskran village, had threatened to set herself on fire if the culprits were not brought to justice on Sunday.
Narrating her ordeal, the ninth grader had accused Naveed, a driver in his fifties, of barging into her house on March 5 and forcibly taking her to a seminary.
However, the seminary’s principal, who was a relative of Naveed, allowed her to go home with her mother when she came to take her daughter.
“Next day, when I approached the police to lodge a complaint, the SHO put my father in the lockup and started pressurising me to sign a marriage contract with Naveed, who is already married,” she claimed.
The same evening, the SHO called a jirga at the police station which decided to marry her to Naveed. It was also decided that Naveed’s sister should be married to Babar, since he was engaged to Anila.
The teenager asked the jirga to not to force her into marriage considering that she was engaged to marry Babar, but the jirga members refused to entertain her pleas.
According to Anila’s account, the SHO arranged his own registrar and nikah khwan (contracting officer), after which she was taken to Naveed’s native village. She has accused the SHO of threatening to implicate her father in fake cases if she refused to sign the marriage contract.
“I cried and implored them that I was innocent and I shouldn’t be married to a man in his fifties but all my cries fell on deaf ears,” said Anila.
“I was kept in a locked room for a month during which he abused me. He even refused to take me to a doctor even though I was sick and kept begging him,” she added.
Last week Anila managed to escape while Naveed was visiting Rawalpindi. She then approached journalists and human rights activists, who took up her case.
Taking note of media reports, Mansehra district police officer had initiated an inquiry into the incident, following which a case was registered against the SHO, Naveed and his father, the seminary principal Qari Mushtaq, nikah khwan Qari Abdul Latif, Irshad, Javed, Salim, Farooq, Khan Bahadur, Aurangzeb and five others.
The SHO, when approached for comments, rejected the allegation, saying that Anila had eloped with Naveed to the seminary.
He also said that the marriage took place with the consent of both families, as Anila’s father believed pursuing a case would bring a bad name to his family, but he failed to answer why he took it upon himself to force the girl into marriage.
*Name has been changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2012.