ISLAMABAD: Two domestic helpers were also allegedly involved in beating and torturing 10-year-old Tayyaba at the home of suspended sessions judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan, according to a fact finding report by a child rights advocacy group.
Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child’s (Sparc) manager for street children Mohammad Moammar told The Express Tribune that the child maid was not beaten because of a missing broomstick but on suspicion of stealing valuables.
The fact-finding team cited the neighbours of Raja Khurram as saying that Maheen Zafar, the ex-judge’s spouse, had beaten the girl with the help of the other two maids on suspicion of theft.
Sharing details, Moammar said that when they visited the judge’s house they were received by a teenage girl who worked as a maid. Later, they met another house maid between the ages of 17-18.
Moammar said the mission was told that Raja Khurram was not at home and his wife refused to speak to them.
Members of the team later quizzed a police head constable. “He informed us that the girl had not been seen for the past five days and the details were therefore sketchy,” Moammar added.
The team finally turned to the people in the neighbourhood in the hope of gathering more details about Tayyaba.
On condition of anonymity, some people in the neighbourhood informed the Sparc team that Tayyaba had been working as a domestic helper at the judge’s house for the past year.
They claimed that Tayyaba was “punished on suspicion of theft and was deprived of food for four days”.
She was kept on the terrace without any quilt and left in the cold. A neighbour reported hearing her cries on the terrace. And upon asking her, she told him that she was wounded and hungry.
The neighbours gave Tayyaba some food and a quilt. They helped her for four days. By the fifth day, Tayyaba had disappeared from the terrace.
The CSC team informed Sparc head office about the facts, and the Crisis Centre was contacted. After close coordination of Sparc with the Crisis Centre, the girl was recovered.
In stark contrast, the judge and his wife accused the neighbours of incriminating them in a ‘baseless case’ in their testimonies. They insisted that the girl was treated as a family member and was only tasked to look after the judge’s one-year-old son.
Denying all charges, the couple’s statements recorded before the investigators revealed that a few neighbours allegedly hatched a conspiracy against them, adding that they had kept the girl on humanitarian basis because her own parents were unable to look after her.
In her statement, Maheen had told the police that one of her sister’s acquaintances – an old woman named Nadira – had brought the girl to her, saying she belonged to a poor family and her parents were unable to look after her.
She said that the girl was kept as a babysitter for her son, Raja Muhammad Ali Khan, and Nadira was given money for helping the girl’s parents.
Maheen said that Tayyaba was treated like one of her own daughters, provided with quality food, given a room and allowed to watch television with other children. “She was never tortured and I can’t even think of doing that,” she said.
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On December 10, Maheen said her neighbour’s daughter got in touch with the girl and they were occasionally found talking with each other. She reckoned that the neighbour worked for an NGO.
In her defence, Maheen said that if she had tortured the girl the neighbour would not have been allowed to meet her and upload her pictures on social media.
“Tayyaba was never locked in the quarter by the side of the water tank. She would sleep in her servant quarter located at the top floor and sometimes in the girls’ room. Everyone has staged a drama and incriminated me – an innocent – in the case,” she added.
Raja Khurram’s statement
Raja Khurram told the investigators that several mafias were working against him as he had passed rulings in several high-profile and sensitive matters during his 16-year association with the judiciary. “We are innocent,” he said.
He also defended his wife against the charges, saying she is “an extremely kind-hearted person.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2017.
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