LAHORE / DERA GHAZI KHAN: The alleged kidnapping cases of Karachi teens Dua Zehra and Nimra Kazmi took a new twist on Monday when police claimed that both of them had married of their own free will.

Earlier this month, Dua Zehra, 14, and Nimra, 16, went missing from their Shah Faisal Colony and Saudabad homes, respectively. Both girls’ parents alleged that their daughters were kidnapped by unknown people.

However, police have so far failed to recover either of them.

Talking to Dawn, Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said he would confirm the recovery of the missing girls as soon as “some credible information” was received.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah also said on Monday that Dua Zehra’s whereabouts have been traced, but did not provide further details as he said the matter was “sensitive”.

While the minimum age for marriage under the Punjab Marriage Restraint Act is set at 16 for girls and 18 for boys, under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act 2013, nobody below the age of 18 can contract a marriage in the province.

Marriage certificate

Meanwhile, a senior officer of the Lahore police confirmed to Dawn that Dua got married and the couple went underground after their nikahnama was uploaded on social media.

A copy of the nikahnama of the newly married couple reached the Lahore police, showing Dua was married to Zaheer Ahmad of Sher Shah Colony, Raiwind, Lahore, on April 17.

The case of Dua Zehra’s alleged kidnap in Karachi went viral on social media and assumed greater importance when her father told the police that she was just 14 years old and unidentified suspects allegedly kidnapped her, creating a test case for Karachi police.

However, this burden shifted to Lahore police in the wake of Wednesday’s development after it was confirmed that she got married in the city and the couple had gone underground.

The marriage certificate showed the girl’s age as 18 and the boy’s age as 22. The Nikah ceremony was held in the Union Council/Town of Babu Sabu of Sherakot.

Nikah Khawan/Nikah Registrar Hafiz Ghulam Mustafa of Mozang Road, Lahore, performed the Nikah while two people, including Shabbir Ahmad of Sher Shah Colony and Asghar Ali of district Okara, signed as witnesses. According to the marriage certificate, Rs5,000 has been set as Haq Mehar which has been paid at the time of the Nikah ceremony. The previous status of the newly married couple showed ‘unmarried’.

A few relatives of the groom attended the ceremony, but no one from the bride’s side was present, while she was listed as an “adult” on the nikahnama.

Sharing the results of initial investigations into the case, a Lahore police official said the couple had become friends on social media and were regularly speaking to each other for hours.

Quoting his colleague, serving in Karachi who was also investigating the same case, the official said police found some important evidence from a home-based internet device of the girl, including her search history for a “marriage of choice”.

He said the girl might have been sent a proposal by the boy living in Lahore, prompting her to leave her parents’ home.

The police official said a team had raided the residence of the groom in Sher Shah Colony on Wednesday, but the newly married couple had already left.

Police also approached the boy’s family members who refused to cooperate, he said, adding that the mobile phones of both of them were found switched off.

“We are trying to obtain mobile phone records for both of them to trace their whereabouts,” the police official said. He added that the Karachi police had contacted the Lahore police high-ups when they came to know about the presence of Dua in the provincial capital.

He said other persons of interest, including the Nikah Khawan and witnesses, have also disappeared to avoid arrest.

In reply a question, the police official said that under the Punjab Marriage Restraint Act, any adult who marries a child, defined as a boy under 18 years of age and a girl under 16, can be punished with imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of Rs50,000.

“The same punishment will apply to a Nikah Registrar who solemnises or conducts a marriage between two children, or a marriage of an adult with a child,” he added.

Additionally, the police official said, the parents or guardians of either party will be punished if they facilitate or organise the marriage of a minor (anyone under the age of 18) or a child.

“The parents and/or guardians will be punished with imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of Rs50,000,” he said.

Nimra Kazmi

Separately, Dera Ghazi Khan District Police Officer Muhammad Ali Waseem told Dawn that Nimra was married to one Najeeb Shah Rukh of her own free will.

She also recorded a statement before the additional sessions judge in Taunsa Sharif that she had married of her own accord, the police officer added.

She also posted a video statement in which she claimed that she married Najeeb of her own free will. She said in the video statement that she came to Taunsa on April 17 and got married a day later.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2022



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