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Girls detained on panchayat orders allege gang-rape

VEHARI, July 23: On the orders of sessions court, police on Tuesday night recovered two girls, detained at an outhouse of a landlord on the orders of a panchayat (jury), who alleged they were gang-raped during their week-long detention.

The court was moved by Fida Husain, brother of one of the girls, saying the victims were illegally detained on the orders of a panchayat.

Reports said one Shaukat allegedly kidnapped a relative, Humera, about two weeks back and could not be traced. To ‘resolve’ the issue, elders of both families held a punchayat and decided that Shaukat’s sister ‘S’ and his cousin ‘R’ would remain in the custody of Humera’s relative Mehr Maqsood, till Shaukat and Humera were brought back.

Accordingly, the girls were handed over to Mehr Maqsood and others for one week.

Meanwhile, on the complaint of Fida Husain, the sessions court ordered Mitroo police for girls’ recovery. The police raided the outhouse of Mohammad Hashim and recovered the girls.

Police also nabbed Manzoor, brother of Humera, while the other accused managed to escape from the scene.

After being recovered, the girls were produced in the court. The victims alleged that during the detention Mehr Maqsood, Manzoor and several unidentified people repeatedly raped them at gunpoint. The court handed the girls over to their families and asked them to lodge an FIR.

However, Mitroo police SHO Rashid Malik told Dawn that the rape ‘allegations’ would be confirmed only after medical examination of the victims.

Accused Manzoor denied rape charges. He claimed brother of one of the victims himself offered to handover the girls to Humera’s relatives till her return.

Police had neither registered case against the members of the panchayat nor against those accused of raping the girls during their detention.
Source: Dawn
Date:7/24/2008

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