Vani sisters not out of woods yet
MIANWALI, April 24 2006: The Daudkhel police have instituted a case against six people, including the father and the grooms of two vani girls, on the complaint of mediators that the grooms’ family has returned the diyat and is now threatening to exact revenge of its elder’s murder. The case has been registered under section 310-A and 109 of PPC against grooms Shafaullah and Ikramullah, deceased Ataullah’s sons Muhammad Asghar and Lateefullah, Amaullah Khan, the father of bridegrooms, and his brother Sanaullah Khan.
Vani is a draconian custom prevalent mostly in backward areas in which girls are married to persons of the families upon whom any member of their homes, may be father or brother, has done some wrong. Hence, a girl is made a scapegoat and married off not of her own accord but as a means of settlement. In the case in question, two victim sisters were divorced by their spouses after payment of diyat amounting to Rs170,000 on the intervention of the Daudkhel police and due interest taken by the area notables.
Reports emanating during the past few weeks revealed that a marriage party returned without brides in Daudkhel town, some 22 kilometres from here, when a religious figure refused to solemnise their nikah. The girls had got khula through a family court from their former husbands with whom their nikah had been solemnised in childhood under the vani tradition.
The Maulana held that the family court could not dissolve the earlier nikah of the girls, as the judges were not qualified to be considered a Shariat court Qazi. He impressed upon the families that the earlier bond of the girls by their walis stood valid, no matter they were given under the vani tradition. What led vani to raise its head could be traced back to April 1985 when Amanullah Khan had been booked under section 302 of PPC for murdering Ataullah Khan, of Daudkhel, over a land dispute. A Mianwali sessions judge, subsequently, awarded him death sentence.
Later, the elders and common friends of both the parties intervened and reached a compromise that Rs250,000 and hands of two daughters of the convict would be given in vani to the two sons of deceased Ataullah. A verbal nikah of Kulsoom Bibi, then six, with Ikramullah Khan, then seven, and Nusrat Bibi, 8, with Saifullah Khan, who was for years elder than his would-be wife, were performed in 1990 by their walis. After the compromise, Amanullah Khan was acquitted of the charge.
As time went by, both the girls got educated up to graduation level but their ‘matches’ remained illiterate. When the girls came of age, they refused to honour their elders’ commitments and knocked at the doors of NGOs and the police to save them from the horrific tradition. The boys, on the other hand, filed petitions seeking custody of their wives. The family court, however, dissolved both the marriages as the girls had sought khula. After the verdict, fresh marriages of both the girls were arranged but the Maulana refused to perform nikah.
In view of the press reports, the IGP directed the Daudkhel SHO to solve the matter amicably. The SHO summoned both the parties, along with the notables of the area, and succeeded in convincing the bridegrooms that they should divorce the girls against payment of Rs170,000 diyat. In the latest development, the enmity has re-emerged after the grooms’ family have returned the amount and decided to exact revenge. As the family of girls and mediators reported the matter to the Daudkhel police, they registered a case.
The police said none of the grooms had so far been arrested, as they hoped that the matter would be resolved amicably by the notables.