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‘Husband’ remanded in jail in Christian girl’s conversion, marriage case

KARACHI: A local court on Thursday remanded in judicial custody a suspect detained in a case pertaining to alleged abduction of a teenage Christian girl, who has purportedly converted to Islam.

Police claimed to have booked her ‘husband’ Syed Ali Azhar, his brothers — Syed Shariq Ali and Syed Mohsin Ali — along with his friend Danish Mehmood over their alleged involvement in the abduction of Arzoo on Oct 13.

The incident of alleged abduction of Arzoo has sparked countrywide protests from human rights groups against her purported forced conversion and underage marriage with a Muslim man.

Police have also shown a cleric, Qazi Abdul Rasool, who allegedly performed the underage marriage, Mohammad Azharuddin and a witness of the alleged marriage Mohammad Danish, as absconders in the remand papers.

On Thursday, the investigating officer produced the alleged main suspect Syed Ali Azhar before judicial magistrate (South) Mohammad Ali Dall upon expiry of his physical remand in police custody.

The IO, Shariq Ahmed Siddiqui, mentioned that he had completed all required formalities of investigation in respect of custody of the suspect, Syed Ali Azhar, therefore, his physical remand in police custody was no more required.

Defence counsel Mohammad Nizar Tanoli argued that the entire proceedings of the matter were against the fundamental principles of Islam, as Arzoo Fatima herself had stated before the Sindh High Court that she had not been abducted.

He further argued that the provisions of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act were also in violation of the fundamental principles of Islam as well as in violation of the provisions of the Constitution.

Advocate Mohammad Riaz Abbasi and Luke Victor for the complainant and state prosecutor Abdul Rehman Thaheem supported the submissions of the investigating officer and requested for passing appropriate order.

After hearing arguments from the counsel for the parties and pursuing the case record, the judge remanded suspect Syed Ali Azhar in judicial custody with direction to produce him before the court on Nov 16. The IO was told to file an investigation report on the next date.

Meanwhile, cleric Qazi Abdul Rasool moved an application before the additional district and sessions’ judge (South) to seek bail in order to avoid his arrest in the present case. His bail plea is fixed for hearing on Nov 16. The court has granted interim pre-arrest bail to the cleric against a surety of Rs50,000.

Newspaper: Dawn, The News