KARACHI: Parents of teenage girl Dua Zehra hold a press conference at their residence on Tuesday after her recovery.—PPI
KARACHI: Parents of teenage girl Dua Zehra hold a press conference at their residence on Tuesday after her recovery.—PPI

LAHORE: Syeda Dua Zehra Kazmi, the girl allegedly kidnapped from Karachi, on Tuesday recorded her statement before a judicial magistrate at Model Town Courts, saying she contracted marriage with a boy from Lahore of her free will.

Earlier in the day, Dua and her husband were recovered from Okara and handed over to the Lahore police.

The police produced the girl and her husband, Zaheer Ahmad, before the magistrate under strict security arrangements.

Magistrate Tassawar Iqbal Khan ordered the police to take the boy out of the courtroom before recording the statement of the girl.

Parents adamant daughter kidnapped, coerced into giving false statements

Dua told the magistrate that she had, being sui juris (legally major), contracted marriage with Ahmad on April 17 in accordance with Muslim rules. She claimed no one had kidnapped her and that she had left her home of her own free will, bringing nothing valuable with her.

The girl alleged her parents forcibly entered the house of her husband in Lahore and tried to take her with them. However, she said, they ran away, threatening dire consequences for her and her husband.

For the sake of her security, the police requested the magistrate to send the girl to Darul Aman.

However, the girl said she wanted to live with her husband. In light of her ‘statement’, the magistrate allowed her to go with her husband.

Earlier, a sessions court also restrained the parents of Dua from extending any harassment to the couple and directed the police to provide them security.

In her petition, Dua named her father, Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi, and cousin, Syed Zainul Abidin, as respondents, along with Wahdat Colony SHO.

She alleged that her father had been forcing her to marry her cousin against her will. She said her parents used to beat her for refusing to marry the boy of their choice. She asked the court to order the police to take action against her parents for causing harassment to her and her husband.

The court ordered the police to ensure couple’s security and sought replies from the respondents by next week.

Daughter being ‘influenced’

Meanwhile, Dua’s parents insist their daughter has been kidnapped and coerced into giving false statements.

At a press conference on Tuesday in Karachi, her father said that “marriage of an underage child comes under the section of kidnapping”.

Responding to the video released by Dua where she claimed that she ran away from her house by choice and married a boy of her will as her parents used to beat her and were forcing her to marry a person, the girl’s parents stated that their daughter had been kidnapped as she was underage and could not be married.

“On April 18, I was here in Karachi in contact with the police and security agencies. We never went anywhere,” he said, referring to Dua’s petition.

“Had I known her location, I would have directly given it to the police... They picked up our daughter and are now forcing her to issue these statements. I am requesting that everyone bring the child to Karachi...Don’t hand her over to me. She should be sent to a child protection bureau and an investigation should be initiated there,” he demanded.

Mr Kazmi claimed that the statements circulating in the media were taken under coercion and urged the Sindh chief minister and inspector general to return Dua to Karachi and hand her over to the Child Protection Bureau to conduct an open investigation into the matter.

He said: “Don’t hand her over to me, but at least bring her here to Karachi and investigate the case neutrally.”

Her father thanked Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari as she raised her voice for the family and said that taking away an underage girl was kidnapping.

Mr Kazmi also showed his daughter’s birth certificate at the press conference, according to which, her age was 13 years and 11 months. “It hasn’t even been 18 years since my marriage. How’s it possible that my daughter would be 18 years old?” he asked.

Dua’s father said that he knew nothing about the boy, Zaheer, who had married his daughter and had never heard of the area in his life which was mentioned as the address of Dua in the nikahnama.

He added that his daughter was being “influenced” and demanded that the case be handed over to the Sindh police.

The parents maintained that nikahnama was fake since there was no registration number, nor did it have any official stamp. The mother said: “The cleric whose name was mentioned on the nikahnama has refuted and said that he hasn’t officiated any nikah.”

Mrs Kazmi stressed that it was a case of kidnapping and that she would file a complaint against the boy who had married their daughter.

She expressed concern that her daughter was being harassed and being coerced into giving the statement by making inappropriate videos of her.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2022

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