KARACHI: Police on Wednesday recovered 36 minor girl students of a Karachi seminary who had been handed over to a family by a teacher and a supervisor of the madrassah over non-payment of a debt.
Acting on a complaint filed by the residents, police raided a house in Liaquatabad C-1 area and found 26 young girls inside.
Later, seven more young girls were recovered from the same area.
Moreover, police also recovered three minor girls, aged 10, 12 and 14 years respectively, in a separate raid, raising the tally to 36. The three girls were kept at another seminary, situated at a flat in the Korangi Crossing area.
According to ASI Tanveer, the girls, who hail from Bajaur tribal region, could not speak or understand Urdu. The seminary handed the girls over to the family when the family was unable to pay off a loan it had taken from the madrassah. As repayment of the loan, the seminary had asked the family to take charge of the young girls' welfare.
A woman from the family added that a female teacher from the seminary along with a supervisor came to their house and handed over the girls for safekeeping on the pretext that it would add pressure to repay the loan.
Police officials said that the seminary owner in her statement had said that she regularly brought in children from Bajaur to educate them in her madrassah in Karachi's Jamshed Quarters area.
She further said that after receiving education the girls returned to Bajaur where they imparted training to others. The owner added that she also arranged marriages of poor girls in the tribal region.
After airing the initial news on TV channels, residents of Korangi informed police that three girls were also brought to a seminary in their area.
In the latest development of involving the recovery of the three girls, the supervisor of the seminary, told police that the institution was also run by the same guardian, who brought girls from Bajaur.
Commenting on the series of recoveries, Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Rauf Siddiqui termed it a terrible tragedy that so many girls were living in such a marooned manner.
He said that they were monitoring the situation and insisted that a comprehensive crackdown was essential to avoid such incidents.
Earlier, Sindh minister for women welfare Robina Qaimkhani met the affected girls and announced government support for them.
Governor Sindh Eshratul Ebad, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, renowned religious scholar Mufi Naeem and other prominent figures also condemned the incident and demanded strict punishment for those responsible.
According to the police officials, the recovered girls would be handed over to their families after legal formalities.
Police sources tried to downplay the incident and said that the affair appeared to be a petty dispute over a financial transaction since the seminary owners' son was on good terms with the husband of the debtor.