Beware of the girls begging or cleaning the windshield of your car at traffic signals. Any wrong move and you may end up in prison for a kidnapping case under the Hudood laws.
Yasin, the driver of a bank official, learnt this the hard way as he was locked up for seven months for no apparent fault of his. He was freed only after he took his case to the Sindh High Court and was granted bail.
Yasin used to drive his boss through Defence from his residence to his workplace in the Korangi industrial area. One day, as their car came to a stop at the Defence signal near Kala Pull, a 14- to 16-year-old girl started wiping the windshield. The banker asked his driver to stop her, but when Yasin told her off, she flung some dirt at the car and threatened him.
The girl, later identified as Chanda, allegedly went missing from the traffic signal on December 20, 2011 at 11:30 am. After 10 days, her father Arshad Parkash, registered a case (534/ 2011) with the Defence police, specifically naming Yasin and another beggar Shazia under Section 365-B (abduction with intention to commit Zina) – a non-bailable offence under the Hudood Ordinance. Defence SI Nafees Ahmed Chaudhry was appointed to investigate.
It was not clear how Chanda’s father was able to so definitely pinpoint Yasin by name, given that he was just in a car that stopped at a signal. There is suspicion that the family had decided to target him as he used that route often.
On December 31, Yasin was arrested but the police could find no evidence against him. He was remanded to police custody for 10 days and later shifted to jail on the orders of the additional district and sessions court, South.
The police recorded another statement by Chanda’s father and the investigation was transferred to Inspector Ahmed Ali of the Artillery Maidan police station. The police picked up the other suspect, Shazia, for interrogation. In custody at the Women police station, she recorded her statement against “unidentified people” for kidnapping Chanda.
Meanwhile, Chanda resurfaced, claiming to have been rescued by her family and neighbours from a distant locality. In her statement before the police, she stated that Yasin had abducted her and kept her at a house where she was forced to work for a family of five.
She claimed that she was recovered after her grandmother, who had by chance come begging to the house, saw her inside. Chanda maintained that she was neither sexually assaulted nor maltreated, but was forced to do household chores.
Interestingly, the family did not immediately go to the police when they supposedly found out where Chanda was being ‘kept’, despite the fact that a case was registered and the police was trying to trace her.
Yasin applied for bail, which was rejected. He then filed a plea in the high court. Dismissing the bail plea, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi directed the trial court to record Chanda’s statement. As no witnesses turned up for two months, the additional sessions judge converted the case from Section 365-B into Section 370 (selling a person into slavery).
Yasin was then granted bail as the new section was bailable. He has emerged after living behind bars for seven months.
His lawyer Rizwan Ahmed Siddiqui, who is a former deputy attorney general, says that a mafia is working at traffic signals to implicate men in fake kidnap cases in collusion with law enforcers so that they can then demand money for settlement.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.