UMERKOT: Amisha Khaskheli — said to be under 18 and alleged to have been tricked into a marriage scam along with her parents by some influential community men and the city’s women police personnel — was produced before Umerkot civil judge Amir Rajput on Thursday to record her statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

She stated that she was abducted by Faizullah Palli and Saifullah Palli with the help of SHO Khush Bakht of the local women police station. The judge handed over the girl to her parents.

Before making her statement, she came across some local reporters when she was brought back to Umerkot by a team of the Pinyari police station. The reporters quoted her as saying that she was drugged by the SHO at the police station and that when she regained her senses she found herself at the house of the Pallis.

Amisha was taken into custody along with five other persons by the SHO and her team on April 17 in a raid on a ceremony in Hashim Palli village where an alleged underage marriage was under way. The SHO took the plea that Amisha was only 13.

The underage groom, Shahzeb, was also there but he was not taken into custody, it was learnt.

In order to hush up the matter, the groom’s side got an affidavit executed to state under oath that the ceremony was for an engagement and not wedding and that the wedding would not be solemnised until Amisha attained the legal age for marriage.

Eventually, the girl and suspects were set free and an impression was created that Amisha was going to be handed over to her parents. However, her mother, Umran Khaskheli, moved the Sindh High Court on April 30 with the plea that the groom’s side had taken away her daughter and the SHO was not helping recover her from them. The court ordered the girl’s recovery and fixed the matter for May 7.

Faizullah and Saifullah, sensing gravity of the situation, had surrendered themselves before the Umerkot police on April 26 and stated that they had no knowledge about the girl’s whereabouts.

On Wednesday (May 2), a retired police head constable, Muharram Baloch, appeared at the Pinyari police station along with Amisha and claimed that he had ‘found’ her near Tando Allahyar road.

The questions that to whom the girl was handed over by the SHO and how she reached a place far away from her house in Umerkot remained a mystery.

Ghulam Nabi Shah, a cousin of the two suspects, on Thursday revealed that an [unspecified] amount of money was involved in the whole episode. He claimed that the girl’s parents had taken a loan from the Pallis and hinted that the matter of the girl’s engagement/marriage was linked with the same loan. He named some “characters” supposedly involved in the episode. He claimed that Amisha’s parents, who served as peasants of the Pallis, were not in a position to repay the loan and, therefore, had agreed to the [compensatory] marriage proposal.

Ghulam Nabi Shah alleged that the “characters” instigated the bride’s side to demand Rs5 million from his cousins after the matter was highlighted and police were involved. He claimed that his cousins, at one stage, even agreed to settle the matter for Rs2m.

Taking notice of the matter, Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.D. Khowaja on Thursday ordered that Amisha be given in custody of the Hyderabad police and a thorough investigation into the episode be conducted.

The IGP constituted a three-member committee comprising Mirpurkhas SSP Nazeer Ahmed Mallah, Umerkot SSP Aijaz Ahmed Shaikh and Umerkot DSP Fazlul Haq Chandio to hold the probe.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2018

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