Fugitive from forced marriage kidnapped

Rana Tanveer July 25, 2010

LAHORE: Saadia, the 13-year-old, who alleged that her father and brother-in-law had tried to force her into marriage with an elderly man, was reported kidnapped on Sunday ostensibly to obstruct legal action against them by keeping her away from the Lahore high Court (LHC).

The court has issued notice to the police for July 27 on her plea for protection.

Saadia’s mother, 45-year-old Kausar, told The Express Tribune that her son-in-law Mahboob Ahmed, and his brother Maqsood Ahmed alias Mithu, had snatched Saadia from her house in Narang Mandi, Muridke, and escaped in a car. She said that they had fired rifle shots in the air to deter neighbours when she cried out for help.

Earlier, Kausar said, Maqsood’s wife Mah Jabeen and his mother-in-law Iqbal Bibi had visited her and requested her to withdraw the petition which she had filed before the LHC requesting action against Mahboob, her husband Irshad Ahmed, Mah Jabeen and Iqbal Bibi. On July 22, the LHC had directed the district police officer (DPO) Sheikhupura to provide them with protection and summoned them for the next hearing on July 27. Kausar said Mah Jabeen and Iqbal Bibi tried their best to persuade her for a settlement but she did not agree to it. She said that when they concluded that she was not flexible on this point they called Mahboob and Maqsood to her house and kidnapped Saadia at gunpoint and drove away.

She said that before they left, Mahboob told her, “I will teach you a lesson for not withdrawing the case against us.” She said that the accused are pressuring her to withdraw the petition. She said she feared that they would force Saadia into marriage with an elderly man with whom they had already made a contract for Rs70,000.

The duty officer at Naranag Mandi police station told The Express Tribune that they had not been informed about the kidnapping. He said they would take action as soon as a complainant approached them.

On July 19, Saadia escaped from her father Irshad Ahmed, a heroin addict, and her brother-in-law Mahboob Ahmed who she said had tried to sell her into a marriage with 55-year-old Ijaz for a sum of R70,000.

Saadia’s mother and most of her other siblings had earlier been evicted from their home by Mahboob Ahmed with the approval of her father. She said that Mahboob was not only funding her father’s drug habit but had told him that he would find him another bride and that they would sell Saadia for a large sum. Saadia said she ran away from home when she discovered the details of this plot. After spending a night on the road, Saadia was reunited with her mother.

After Saadia escaped, Mahboob and Irshad allegedly bribed the police into raiding homes of several relatives for her recovery. The police, also, arrested some of Saadia’s relatives on the suspicion of detaining her. However, they released them after Kausar filed a petition in the LHC. Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry of the LHC on July 22 ordered the police not to harass Saadia or her relatives. He also directed the police officials concerned to appear before the court on July 27.

Saadia’s counsel, Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique, told The Express Tribune that the LHC had directed the Sheikhupura DPO to protect the girl and her family. He said in neglecting this direction the police had violated the court order. He said he would file an application in this regard before the LHC on Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2010.


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