LAHORE, Feb 26: The Punjab chief secretary has sought a report from the Bahawalnagar district police officer on the decision of a panchayat at Minchanabad village to give a two-year girl into marriage of a 42-year-old man in 'vani' last week.

The abominable tribal custom echoed at a meeting of the Punjab Human Rights Monitoring Committee here on Saturday. The participants were informed that the chief secretary had already sought a report.

The 'vani' custom was invoked by the village jury as a punishment to Muhammad Akmal, who had allegedly abducted and wedded Maimoona, a married woman belonging to a rival clan. The tribes not only dissolved the marriage, but also gave the errant man's two-year-old sister in marriage to 42-year old Muhammad Altaf to settle honour scores.

The committee, which met with regional director Kishwar Shaheen Awan in the chair, also took notice of the killing of three people in a police encounter near Jaranwala. It examined the report of the DPO concerned, according to which, the three were involved in heinous crimes and they allegedly shot at police on being stopped.

The committee reviewed 17 cases, which the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights received from overseas Pakistanis through the European Union, Australia and Canada who had complained of forcible occupation of their land. Four such cases were decided after the police submitted their reports.

Police reports were also sent to the complainants living abroad through the foreign office. The meeting was told that another 10 cases were being investigated and the remaining were being sent for investigation.

According to sources, the Punjab Directorate of Human Rights had received eight cases of HR violation during February. Most of them related to rape, and complainants were victim women or their fathers. Three each of the complaints were received from Lahore and Sheikhupura and two each from Kasur and Rahim Yar Khan.

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