KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Tuesday issued non-bailable warrant for the arrest of a cleric, who is allegedly absconding in a case pertaining to solemnizing marriage of an underage Christian girl after she reportedly forcibly converted to Islam.
Qazi Mufti Ahmed Jaan Raheemi, the cleric who had allegedly solemnized the nikah of then 13-year-old Neha, her husband Mohammad Imran, and his relatives Mohammad Rehan Baloch, Sundus and Azra, have been booked in the case.
Last month, the court had issued bailable warrants for the arrest of the cleric and four others after taking cognizance of the girl’s underage marriage.
Police remand of Arzoo’s purported husband extended
When the matter came up before Judicial Magistrate (West) Wajid Ali Channa, the investigating officer of the case filed a report on behalf of the Ittehad Town SHO stating that the arrest warrants could not be executed on the cleric and other suspects in the Neha case and requested more time to execute them.
Taking notice of their absence, the judge issued non-bail able warrants against the cleric and four others directing the IO to arrest and produce them in court on Nov 16.
Earlier, the magistrate had taken cognizance of the underage marriage of Neha, who had lodged a direct complaint with the court nominating the cleric, her purported husband Imran and his four relatives.
“On careful examination of the statements recorded during preliminary inquiry, it appears that the complainant in her statement stated that she is less than 13 years and she was not willing in the nikah with the accused Muhammad Imran,” the magistrate said.
He had further noted: “The nikah was solemnized without her consent under pressure, coercion and influence.”
The judge observed that under the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013, the marriage of either party who is younger than 18 years is prohibited.
Meanwhile, it emerged that cleric Qazi Raheemi also performed the nikah of another underage Christian girl, Arzoo Raja, who is said to have converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, Syed Ali Azhar.
Police remand of Arzoo’s husband extended
Also on Tuesday, a judicial magistrate (South) extended physical remand of Arzoo’s purported husband Azhar in an identical case pertaining to alleged abduction of the teenage girl, forcible conversion and underage marriage.
The IO, Inspector Shariq Ahmed Siddiqui, informed the magistrate that a medical board submitted in the Sindh High Court that the age of Arzoo was 14. He said that the SHC on Nov 9 directed to incorporate the provisions of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act in the matter.
He said the SHC had also directed him to initiate proceedings against all the facilitators of the marriage.
He requested for extension in the physical remand of Azhar for further interrogation and completion of the investigation and other legal formalities.
Defense counsel Chaudhry Mohammad Ramzan contended that the investigating agency had failed to show any progress in the matter despite getting police remand of his client since Nov 3.