Sukkur police on Friday booked 25 people at Raza Goth police station for alleged involvement in holding a jirga on Thursday, and ordering the handing over of 12 girls in marriage to reconcile a four-year-old murder case. According to informed sources, the jirga was held near Pano Aqil, under the supervision of local landlord Mohammad Ibrahim Maher, to resolve a murder case involving two groups of the Maher clan – Paryal and Alan.
The groups live in the kachcha area of Lakhi Ghulam Shah, district Shikarpur.
The jirga members found the Paryal Maher guilty of murder of four men from Alan Maher, ordering the former clan to give 12 of their minor girls in marriage to men from the latter, three girls for every murder as compensation. The jirga members also directed the declared guilty to pay Rs250,000 in fines to the declared victims.
Sources say both groups accepted the verdict and decided to perform the nikah of the 12 girls, aged between eight and twelve, to male members of the Alan Maher later in the evening.
News of the verdict was leaked to the media, purportedly prompting the police to conduct raids and arrest the culprits involved in convening the jirga.
The accused, however, managed to flee and SHO Raza Goth police station booked 25 people including the landlord Mohammad Ibrahim Maher, Paryal Maher, Alan Maher and others, on behalf of the state.
No arrests were made till the filing of this report.
DPO Sukkur Aitzaz Goraya, when contacted, said the police are conducting raids to arrest the culprits and the media would be apprised about any updates.
Jirgas are held in parts of interior Sindh as a parallel judicial system to settle scores, despite being banned by the Sindh High Court.
Slamming the jirga’s verdict, human rights activist and lawyer Hadi Bux Bhatt said it is “inhumane, immoral and illegal.”
Jirgas are banned because landlords use them to assume the powers of judiciary, administration and law enforcement, he said.
He added that bartering of girls to settle scores should not be tolerated since it’s not allowed by the law, culture or religion of the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2011.