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ISLAMABAD, June 28: The Supreme Court on Wednesday froze a jirga ruling of handing over five minor girls to a victimised family as compensation over a murder in Jacobabad and ordered the police to submit an inquiry report within two weeks.

The district police officer (DPO), Kashmore, Shahab Mazhar, who produced the minor girls on an earlier direction of the court, was told to conduct an independent inquiry and arrest whosoever was guilty, be it PPP member National Assembly Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani or a local influential.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, while presiding over a chamber hearing, also directed the DPO to provide protection to local journalists who were receiving threats for airing programmes regarding the jirga decision on regional television.

The chief justice along with Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Saiyed Saeed Ashhad were hearing a complaint of a freelance anthropologist Samar Minallah against handing over of five girls namely Aamna, 5; Bashiran, 2 (both daughters of Rahmatullah); Shehzadi, 6; Meerzadi, 2 (both daughters of Hafeezullah), and Noor Bano, 3 (daughter of Yar Ali) to the victim’s family as compensation.

The jirga, which was presided over by PPP Member National Assembly Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, was called to settle a decade-old feud between two rival groups by offering five minors as compensation and penalising a Rs1million fine on both the warring parties.

The feud began in 1997 when Miandad Banglani was killed in a shootout between the Hafiz Qamaruddin and Ali Yar Banglani groups over Karo-kari (honour killing) charges in the Kamal Magsi village, Tehsil Thull, District Jacobabad. The police registered the case after nine years; that too after the media highlighted the injustice. Yar Ali has already been arrested by the police.

It may be mentioned that in remote areas of Sindh disputes are usually settled by marrying off young girls belonging to the offender’s family with the victim’s family instead of giving blood money as compensation for the crime committed by male members of the family.

Tehsil Nazim Thull Akbar Banglani and Peer Bharchoondi Mian Abdul Khalique, who had attended the jirga, were also present during the hearing.

The programme on the jirga decision was recorded by a regional television and played during the hearing containing the statement of Yar Ali and Rehmatullah, the fathers of three of the girls, in Sindhi language endorsing the allegations that the girls were given in compensation to the victim’s family and the decision of marriage had been decided by the jirga.

Advocate General Sindh Anwar Mansoor, who provided a compact disk containing the televised programme, also informed the court that Chief Minister Sindh Arbab Ghulam Rahim had also taken strict notice on holding of the jirga and its decision.

Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa represented Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani while Advocate Syed Mansoor Ali Shah represented Samar Minallah.

Advocate Mansoor also in formed the court about an identical incident where a jirga in Shikarpur handed over two girls as compensation over a dispute between Imdad Sethar and his cousin Mohammad Ramzan Sethar regarding 11 buffaloes. Ramzan had failed to pay the amount valued as the price for the 11 buffaloes to Imdad, owner of the buffaloes. The case pertained to Lakhi Ghulam Shah Taluka of Shikarpur district.

The case was heard by the jirga which ordered Ramzan to hand over his two daughters Heer, 9, and Karima, 1, as compensation to Imdad. The man was imposed to sign documents for handing over his daughters.

The chief justice also ordered the DPO, Shikarpur, to investigate the matter and submit a report.