Two members of a jirga have been arrested for ordering marriage of a six-year-old girl to resolve a family dispute in a village in Swat.
Police registered a First Information Report against Bahadar Khan and Umar Zada, residents of Asharey village in Matta Tehsil, under sections 310-A, 511 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of the girl’s father, Azeem Khan.
The case of swara came to light after Azeem and his wife approached the media on October 30, appealing the Supreme Court chief justice and the president and prime minister of Pakistan to protect their daughter, Bibi Roza.
Azeem said the issue started two years ago when his son, Ameer Zada, got married to Bacha Gai. He said Bahadar started making “false claims” that his daughter-in-law had been engaged to Bahadar’s nephew, Saran Zeb, prior to getting married to his son. He said that Bahadar visited his son, who had moved to Saudi Arabia, pressurising him to annul his marriage and even took Rs500,000 from him as compensation.
Azeem said the matter was resolved between the family, but after Bahadar returned to Pakistan, he abducted Bacha and solemnised her nikah with Sarab. In the meantime, he also tried to get Saran married to Mahjabeen, a sister of Bacha through a local jirga.
Azeem said that with the help of a local court, his daughter-in-law was recovered and handed over to him.
However, he said that a few months later, Bahadar again raised the issue and registered a case against his son and daughter-in-law, who were both arrested and sent to Temargara Jail. Again, the matter was resolved with the help of a local jirga and the couple was freed, Azeem added.
On October 30, Bahadar along with two of Azeem’s brothers — Dawood and Umar Zada — decided to resolve the matter “permanently” by marrying Azeem’s daughter, Bibi, to Saran.
“My brother Umar beat me up and the jirga members threatened to kill me and destroy my house if I refuse to comply with the verdict,” said Azeem, who also accused the Asharey Police Station House Officer Shah Dawran of endorsing the jirga’s decision.
“The SHO forced me to sign an agreement to give my daughter in Swara,” he claimed.
The SHO has denied the accusations. “As soon as I got to know about the case, I communicated the details to the circle district superintendent of police (DSP) to take necessary action,” he said.
When contacted, Deputy Inspector General of Police Akhtar Hayat Gandapur said two suspects have been arrested and further investigations into the case are underway.
He assured that strict action will be taken against the accused once the inquiry is completed.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2012.