LARKANA, Feb 8: Two people, one of them a cleric, were arrested and four children were taken into custody -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

LARKANA, Feb 8: Two people, one of them a cleric, were arrested and four children were taken into custody

LARKANA, Feb 8: Two people, one of them a cleric, were arrested and four children were taken into custody in Hamal village near the Warah town on Friday on charges of arranging marriages of two underage girls to clear an alleged adultery allegation. Four others nominated in the case are still at large.

Warah police took custody of the two would-be child brides — 3-year-old Tasleem and 4-year-old Farzana — and their future ‘husbands’ — Abdul Rasool Mirjat, 10, and Mohammed Saleh, 14.

Deedar Mirjat, father of the boys, and Yar Mohammed Mirjat, the cleric who ‘solemnised’ the marriages on Thursday, have been arrested, and face charges under sections 310-A, 120-B, 102, 103 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, according to the SHO of Warah police station, Aijaz Massan.

He named the other accused as Attur Mirjat, Ghulam Mustafa Mirjat, Hassan Mirjat, Bhooro Mirjat.

Police acted after it was informed that the parents were about to send off the girls after the so-called ‘Nikah’.

About two years ago, Deedar Mirjat had accused Ibrahim Mirjat of having illicit relations with his daughter Nazan, whom he had expelled from his house.

About seven months ago, a senior member of the clan, Attur Mirjat, had ‘settled’ the matter by penalising Niaz Hussain and Ali Asghar, the fathers of the two minor girls, and asking them to marry off their girls to the sons of Deedar Mirjat to compensate for their son’s perceived misdeeds. The SHO said he had no clue about the whereabouts of Ms Nazan and Mohammed Ibrahim who were at the centre of the dispute.

The matter received wide publicity after the Supreme Court took action on its own and summoned the people involved in the case. Parents of boys and girls had both denied their involvement in the matter, saying that the girls were in their homes. They also denied that a jirga had been held to settle the dispute.

But the issue resurfaced after police was informed that the girls were about to be ‘sent off’ as ‘brides’. The four children were later handed over to the investigation police and they would be produced in the court on Saturday, the SHO said.

When asked where the children would be kept because there was no juvenile jail in Warah, he said someone ‘trustworthy’ people would look after them.

Meanwhile, the girls’ parents have claimed that they were forced to ‘give away’ their daughters because they feared brutal reprisals, adding that their rivals were ‘influential’ people.

Expressing fear for their lives, they sought protection from the authorities. The cleric who had solemnised the so-called Nikah said that he had done it to prevent the dispute from intensifying.
Source: Dawn
Date:2/9/2008