MULTAN: Local police foiled an attempt to marry off a nine-year-old girl with a 15-year-old boy in Luddan town of Vehari district, late Saturday night.
Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Budh Ghulam, had planned to marry off his nine-year-old stepdaughter A* with the 15-year-old son of his cousin Kashif.
After receiving a complaint from residents in the area, police raided the alleged wedding ceremony and arrested the girl’s stepfather, the underage groom and his father.
When officials arrived at the scene, preparations for bride’s ‘rukhsati’ were underway.
During interrogation, Ahmad denied the whole thing stating that the event was an engagement ceremony for the two children and not a marriage ceremony.
On the contrary, nikah khwan (marriage registrar) Fateh Mohammad Khan told police that he had been summoned to solemnise the union. He maintained that he had refused to do so as the young girl had not hit puberty.
He added that after he refused, the girl’s stepfather tried to persuade him that the child was indeed nine years and seven months old and had gone through puberty.
Meanwhile, the principal of Government Girl’s Elementary School said that A* had told her class mates that her stepfather was marrying her off to her cousin over the weekend. “After the class teacher informed me, the school administration contacted the girl’s parents who denied the whole thing,” he said.
DPO Nasir Aziz maintained that strict legal action will be taken against those responsible after investigations.
Child marriage, that is marriage below the age of 18 years, is a cognisable offense under the Punjab Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2015. Section 5 of the act prescribes a jail term of six months or a fine of Rs50,000, or both, for solemnising the marriage of a minor.
*Name withheld to protect identity