PESHAWAR, May 5: Local district and sessions judge Shehbar Khan on Saturday indicted five people for forcing an Upper Dir family into marrying off a four-year-old girl to settle a dispute in line with swara custom.

Under swara widely prevalent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining tribal areas, girls are married mostly against their will to men of rival families to end blood feuds.

The accused, Naqeeb Ahmad, Sherullah, Izzat Mohammad, Nasrullah and Wazir Mohammad, pleaded not guilty to the charge and decided to stand trial.

The court later fixed hearing into the case for May 12 and summoned prosecution witnesses.

It also adjourned to May 12 the hearing into a double murder case in which three of the swara suspects, Naqeeb Ahmad, Sherullah and Izzat Mohammad, have been charged with killing the girl’s father and brother for resisting her marriage. Sher Ahmad, a prime suspect in the two cases, has been absconding for the last many months.

Shan Asghar advocate appeared before the court for the complainant, while Sohail Akhtar was the defence lawyer. The swara incident and the two murders were reported in a faraway mountainous area of Kalkot in Upper Dir district.

On March 19, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan ordered to transfer the two cases to Peshawar after Hafeezur Rehman, brother of the swara victim, complained of receiving life threats.

The chief justice had taken a suo motu notice of the matter after Mr Rehman showed up along with his four-year-old sister, Asma, on December 19 and submitted an application. He said his other sister, Ms Rafia, got married to Subhanullah but later, the marriage turned soar prompting her to seek divorce from her husband through a family court.Mr Rehman said his sister later got married to another person in Punjab to the anger of her former husband’s family, which demanded that Ms Asma, who was only two years old at that time, be given to it in swara as her elder sister had brought a bad name to them.

He claimed that on refusal, his father Maulana Daud and brother Abdul Hameed were killed by the said family on November 12, 2011.

On the high court orders, police registered an FIR of the matter on December 21 under Section 310-A and 506 of PPC at Kalkot police station. The five accused were earlier granted bail by the Darul Qaza in Swat in February. However, as three of them were charged with the double murder, they continued to be behind the bars. The two others were freed, however.

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