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LARKANA: Police rounded up eight people, including a Nikah registrar, bridegroom, his father and some other relatives, in a raid on a ceremony late on Sunday evening to foil the marriage of two underage girls.

ASP (City) Dr Imran told Dawn on Monday that an FIR (No. 28/17) was registered against 16 nominated and four unknown suspects at the Taluka police station in the city on behalf of the state. ASI Abdul Sattar Khatyan lodged the FIR under Section 310-A (Punishment for giving a female in marriage or otherwise in badal-i-sulh) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 2013.

The FIR states that a raid was conducted on a wedding ceremony after receiving information that two underage girls were being married off in Mehmood Dero village, located on the outskirts of the city, under the custom of vani. The raiding party witnessed that the two minor girls were being married off to 20-year-old Zuhaib Shah, and 30-32 year-old Sultan Shah, respectively.

Action was taken to foil the unlawful marriages and eight persons were arrested, the ASP said, identifying them as Zuhaib Shah, his father Mithal Shah and brother Mirza Shah, who is a constable in the excise and taxation department, Mohsin Shah, Shahzado Shah, Qaimuddin Shah, Babar Shah and Nikah registrar Maulvi Rustam Ali Baloch.

All other people present at the ceremony escaped during the raid, the police officer said.

He said the arrested suspects would be produced in a court of law soon to obtain their remand.

Sources in the area police said that the two girls were left with their parents while an investigation was under way.

Shahjehan Shah, father of one of the girls, told reporters that he was forced to give away two female members of his family to Mithal Shah so that they could be married off to the latter’s close relations in the name of ‘reconciliation’. He said his brother, Aslam Shah, was implicated in a false case at the behest of Mithal Shah’s relatives and subsequently declared guilty by the area elders sometime back.

Aslam Shah, he said, was accused of sneaking into certain houses belonging to close relatives of Mithal Shah and committing indecent acts.

The police booked and arrested people from both sides arguing that the unlawful marriage had been organised with the consent of both sides, the sources said.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017


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