Rahim Yar Khan District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chattha on Thursday directed Khanpur police to provide protection to a child, allegedly declared vani by a jirga, and her family.
He also directed the police to track down in a week a relative of the child, Muhammad Khalid, and a woman he allegedly eloped with.
The jirga was allegedly convened on the request of the woman’s husband, Muhammad Hameed, who was Khalid’s colleague at a security firm in Karachi, on June 14.
Khanpur Saddar police have yet to deploy any policemen at the family’s home for their protection. Investigation Officer Jam Faiz said they had not received any instruction from the office of the DPO. He said officials could be sent to the family’s house in Nawazabad as soon as such a directive was available.
On Thursday, the child and her mother returned to their village home after spending about 11 days in hiding in the Katcha area of Ehsanpur, close to Sadiqabad, after their appearance at the DPO’s office to request action against the jirga members and to ensure their security.
Her grandfather Muhammad Nawaz, also accompanying them at the scene, told the media that the family had fled the village since the jirga declared his grand-daughter vani and ordered her marriage with Hameed. He said the jirga had also told him to pay Rs200,000 to Hameed.
He said Hameed had also registered a kidnapping and sexual assault case against him and his step-brother Khalid to pressure him into giving in to the jirga decision. The case was filed on June 20. He said the jirga members had ransacked his house and stolen wheat during his absence.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the alleged jirga members – Sardar Zahoor, Muhammad Samad and Manzoor Ahmed – denied that there was any proposal to marry the child to Hameed. They said the jirga was convened to pressure the family into returning Hameed’s wife. They also rejected Nawaz’s allegation that they had stolen wheat from his house.
Hameed told the Tribune that Khalid and he were employed as guards in Karachi. He said Khalid had returned to the village a few days before him in the beginning of June and that he and his wife had eloped before his return to the village.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.