BATTAGRAM: A police case has been filed against 12 people, including a prayer leader, for giving away a minor girl as vani to settle a family dispute in a remote village of Battagram.
Four years ago Mehrban Shah, a resident of Batangi Chapra village and father of five, had allegedly kidnapped 17-year-old Zulekha Bibi. Zulekha was then the wife of Syed Sadiq Shah, a resident of the same village, Shamali police station SHO Rafiq Khan told The Express Tribune on Sunday. Mehrban had reportedly taken Zulekha to Rawalpindi where he married her.
Since both families were related, they decided to follow the traditions of the area and settle the matter with the help of a jirga, added the SHO.
“Sadiq’s family approached local elders to hold a jirga and reach a decision on the matter in order to avoid bloodshed,” said Khan.
An act of revenge
Last week, the jirga, headed by prayer leader Maulana Ghufran Shah, convened at his house in which over a dozen villagers and Sadiq’s family participated.
According to the SHO, the jirga came to the conclusion that since Mehrban had violated local customs by marrying Syed’s wife, his seven-year-old daughter from his first marriage was fair game as vani, to be given to Sadiq so both sides would bury the hatchet.
“After the jirga’s decision, Maulana Ghufran solemnised the seven-year-old’s nikkah with 22-year-old Syed,” said SHO Khan, adding the date for the rukhsati will be decided later.
Her father Mehrban, however, was not present at the jirga and had no knowledge of its decision because he lives in Rawalpindi, added SHO Khan.
Later, the child’s maternal uncle Syed Mehboob Shah, who was also not present at the jirga, filed a complaint with the police against the jirga.
On his complaint, the police filed a case under Section 310-A/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code against Maulana Syed Ghufran Shah, Mehtab Shah, Mudassar Shah, Syed Ali Shah, Imran Shah, Syed Bashir Shah, Yunas Shah, Yusuf Shah, Sadiq Shah and three others.
According to the SHO, the prayer leader was arrested but was later set free on personal guarantees of the area’s elders who claimed he had undergone a surgery and was under treatment. A search for the remaining 11 jirga members is under way, said the SHO.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2014.
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