LAHORE: Police on Friday arrested four panchayat members suspected of marrying off a nine-year-old girl in Vani in a Rahim Yar Khan village after taking notice of the incident and registering a First-Information Report (FIR) against the alleged offenders.

Three of the four suspects arrested have been identified as Punnu, Ghazwa and Kaalu after FIR no. 46/2016 was registered under Section 310 of the Pakistan Penal Code, Gulshan Fareed police checkpost in-charge Ilyas Ali told Dawn adding that the marriage has been halted.

A panchayat had decided earlier this week to give the girl as Vani in marriage to a 14-year-old boy in order to settle what was alleged to be a murder dispute. The arrested men are said to be signatories of the panchayat ruling.

After the girl's brother's wife died earlier in February, her family suspected foul play. A panchayat was held in which it was decided that the nine-year-old sister of the alleged murderer would be married as Vani to a 14-year-old cousin of the deceased wife. The man was also asked to pay a Rs150,000 fine to his deceased wife's relatives.

Ilyas Ali said, "As soon as we learnt of the incident, we registered an FIR and then arrested the suspects in a raid. We also recovered the panchayati order that gave the girl as Vani in marriage to the boy."

He said it was possible more suspects would be arrested in the case.

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