Four members of a jirga were arrested by Chuprial police on Saturday for attempting to force a 15-year-old girl to marry under the archaic Swara custom. The girl, a resident of Rodingar in Matta tehsil, was almost forced to tie the knot to resolve an ongoing dispute between two families when she was rescued.
Tension between the families began in 2010 when Akbar Khan broke into Khyber Khan’s house at night and allegedly tried to kidnap his wife. The latter’s family woke up after they heard his wife screaming, causing Akbar to flee the scene.
According to DSP Zafar Khan, Khyber filed a case against Akbar for breaking into his house and attempting to abduct his wife. A jirga was held on Friday 9 to resolve the dispute.
“Jirga members decided to give the daughter of Feroz Khan, who is Akbar’s brother, to Khyber’s son in swara,” added the DSP.
However, Tabassum Adnan, chairperson of the Khwendo Jirga, informed the police about this decision and urged them to take action against the jirga members. As a result, police arrested four jirga members and foiled the marriage ceremony. A case was subsequently filed after the girl gave a statement against the jirga members.
According to the police, six other jirga members involved in the matter are still at large. Police are conducting raids to find them.
The jirga members have been identified as Gul Rehman, Maseen Zada, Bakhshi, Saeedullah, Bacha Zada, Feroz Khan, Akbar Khan, Hamid Khan, Bakht Zada, Khyber Khan. A case has also been registered against Mohammad Rehman, the nikah khawan, for agreeing to perform the marriage ceremony.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Adnan said swara is practised with impunity in rural areas and no concrete steps are taken to control this menace.
“It is highly objectionable that the government has failed to stop this custom,” she said. “Every time, I have identified such cases the government has promised to take steps against it but the problem continues to surface.”
She urged the government to help eliminate this practice by conducting a series of awareness drives in rural areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.
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