KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Wednesday sent teenage Dua Zehra to a government-run child protection and shelter home, where she would stay till the conclusion of the trial of a case pertaining to her alleged kidnapping.

Judicial Magistrate (East) Aftab Ahmed Bughio passed this order on an application moved by her purported husband, Zaheer Ahmed, seeking directions for the child protection officer (CPO) to produce Dua in court.

Dua, who was brought to Karachi on July 24 from Lahore, was on Wednesday produced before the judicial magistrate by the investigating officer, DSP Saeed Rind through CPO Hafiz Noman Iqbal Usmani amigh tight security.

At the time of her production, the magistrate only allowed the counsel representing the parties to present inside the courtroom.

He clarified to the parties that “at this juncture it is necessary to point out that today the purpose of production of the minor/victim is to safeguard her rights till commencement of the trial and decide the better place for her for her temporary stay”.

The magistrate wrote in his order that after her production the victim/minor was identified by inquiring the introductory questions i.e. her name and father’s name. After being satisfied with regard to the identity she was inquired about the place where she was temporarily/lodging in the Shelter Home for Destitute and Orphan Children Social Welfare. Thereafter, the magistrate also inquired accompanying CPO about the environment under which the victim/minor is kept/residing.

A counsel representing her purported husband Zaheer Ahmed said Dua wanted to give a brief statement. However, the magistrate did not entertain the counsel’s request and made it clear that she was not produced in court for the purpose of recording her statement, but the purpose was just to ensure protection of her rights, including security.

The court inquired from the counsel representing the parties as to whether they were satisfied if the custody was entrusted to the Shelter Home for the Destitute and Orphan Children Social Welfare. Upon which, both the parties — Zaheer and Dua’s family — showed no reservations if Dua’s custody was handed over to the shelter home.

“I’m of the opinion that Shelter Home for Destitute & Orphan Children Social Welfare is the appropriate place for entrusting the custody during the period of trial or till further orders. Accordingly, the custody of the victim is hereby entrusted to the Shelter Home for Destitute & Orphan Children Social Welfare,” the magistrate ordered.

The court also directed the CPO to ensure that no person was allowed to meet Dua without seeking prior permission from the court.

He also ordered that the custody of the minor shall not be moved from the shelter home unless there was written orders from the court or any other court of competent jurisdiction.

On April 16, Dua’s parents had lodged an FIR stating that their daughter had been kidnapped when she left the house to dispose of some trash. After nearly 10 days, on April 26, the teenage girl was recovered from Okara. In a video statement that day, Dua had said that she wasn’t kidnapped and had married Zaheer of her own free will.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2022

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