Less than 24 hours after the police recovered 26 girls from a house in Liaquatabad, the police recovered 10 more from a house in Korangi - out of these seven were from the same seminary on Jamshed Road near Guru Mandir, while three others were from a madrassa in Korangi.
With the total number of students from Bajaur Agency bumped up to 36, on Thursday the Sindh government has decided to hand them over to Bajaur Agency's assistant political agent.
According to DIG Captain (Retd) Tahir Naveed, one of the girls who hailed from Bahawalpur was handed over to her parents after background checks were completed. These girls went missing three days ago from a madrassa and no one had any idea where they went. Their parents found out about their disappearance in the earlier hours of Wednesday morning.
A woman who the girls refer to as Baji, owned the madrassa and ran it like a boarding school where these girls used to live. She had been running the unregistered madrassa from home for years. According to the police, they recovered the girls from a house in Liaquatabad-C at 2am on Wednesday.
Police claim that Baji, who some people have identified as Humaira, had lent some money to Saira and had said that the debt would be repaid if she took care of the girls. After subsequent raids on the madrassa and a house in Korangi, the police recovered 10 more girls.
The girls, who were initially being kept at the office of the SSP Central were moved to the Sindh Social Welfare Department's shelter, Darul Bannat, in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
The deputy director of the social welfare department, Muhammad Idrees, said that the girls were staying with them comfortably and they had enough funds to look after the girls till they were reunited with their parents.
More than a dozen men from Bajaur - relatives and parents of the girls, gathered outside the SSP's office on Wednesday evening to gain custody of the girls but the police refused to hand them over. The police claimed that only the parents could take the girls.
Plan of action
As most of the girls are from the Salarzai tehsil of the Bajaur agency, elders of the area held a jirga in Karachi to discuss what had happened.
Haji Tor Khan, one of the elders and members of the Salarzai Qaumi Jirga, told The Express Tribune that they have formed a four member committee to discuss the issue of the girls. He added that they wanted to take the girls into custody from the Sindh Government. He claimed that they wanted to do this because some of the girls' parents were back in Bajaur, some were in Saudi Arabia and only a few were in Karachi. "The situation in Bajaur is not hidden from anyone," he said. "These girls have relatives over here and we want the government to hand them over to us." He added that their committee had already held a meeting with the commissioner of Karachi and the assistant political agent of Bajaur agency, Fayaz Sherpao.
Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and Sindh Minister for Women Development Rubina Qaimkhani met Sherpao and other elders of the agency at Commissioner House on Thursday. "We have decided to hand over the girls to the assistant political agent who will take the girls back to Bajaur," said Siddiqui. "They will keep the girls in their custody till they can find their parents."
According to Sherpao, they will fly the girls back to Bajaur and hand them over to their families with the help of local elders. He said that they will hold a meeting with a judicial magistrate and commissioner to fulfill the legal procedures. He added that the girls who had their families in Karachi, would be sent home.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2014.