ISLAMABAD: Convinced that police have mishandled the case, a parliamentary committee on Thursday ordered a fresh inquiry into the abduction of a minor Christian girl in Faisalabad.
The 13-year old was freed five months after Muslim men allegedly abducted, forcibly converted her to Islam, and then one of them married her.
A meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. The meeting discussed various issues of forced conversion and marriage and the death of a farmer in Lahore due to alleged police violence besides the murder of a member of the minority community.
Faisalabad police officials told the committee that they had received a complaint from the family of the girl that Khizer Hayat had allegedly abducted the girl. But the girl’s recorded statement said otherwise.
The police maintained that the girl in her statement recorded before a magistrate said she had left her home voluntarily and embraced Islam and got married. The police officials told the committee that the girl had also undergone a medical test and according to the doctor’s report she was between 16 and 17 years old.
However, during the committee meeting, the girl’s father presented the form “B” issued by Nadra which showed her as 13 years old.
Lawmakers question investigation process and also reject medical report declaring girl aged 16 to 17 years
Senator Khokhar and other members of the committee raised questions over the investigation process and declared that the certificate issued by Nadra was authentic proof of the girl’s age, rejecting the doctor’s report. As a proof, the family members also presented her twin brother’s Form “B”.
The girl’s father also registered a complaint with the committee about the behaviour of the police over which the committee expressed its regret.
The chairman of the committee apologised to the family of the minor girl and demanded that legal action be taken against those responsible and proper protection be provided to the family.
Senator Khokhar said: “The investigating officer has tarnished Pakistan’s image.”
The committee also directed the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Faisalabad to investigate the whole matter and submit a report to the committee on Jan 6. The SSP assured the committee that the matter would be investigated and a charge-sheet would be issued to the concerned investigating officer.
Regarding the murder of Dr Tahir Mahmood, a member of the Ahmadi Jamaat in Nankana, DPO Nankana Ismail Kharal informed the committee that Dr Mahmood was killed by a 16-year-old boy, living in his neighborhood. According to the official, those who provided the boy with a weapon had also been arrested and the case was pending in the anti-terrorism court.
The chairman of the committee declared the case sensitive, saying a committee of the entire Senate should discuss these issues with regard to the protection of minorities. He believed that strict action also needed to be taken against hate speech.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Zulfiqar Hameed from Lahore presented facts before the committee against allegation that Malik Ashfaq Langrial died after being tortured by the police during a protest by farmers.
The farmer’s condition deteriorated after tear gas shelling on protesting farmers at Thokar Niaz Baig. He later died in hospital.
The police officer informed the committee that the farmer was suffering from a heart condition and did not die in police custody. He said: “The police had nothing to do with it.”
He said the farmers’ representatives were on a strike and action was taken against them. No one was tortured, he claimed.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2021