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Old woman dies during police raid on house to ‘recover’ married girl

BAHAWALNAGAR: An elderly woman died allegedly because of police torture during a house raid conducted by a Bakhshan police station team here on Friday night, sans any women personnel, to “recover” a girl who had contracted court marriage without the consent of her family.

The groom’s family, while recording their protest against police, told Dawn that Amir, a resident of Bahawalnagar, who was working in a factory in Sialkot, contracted court marriage with Nighat (also of Sialkot) on Jan 1.

They said that Nighat’s father got registered a kidnap case under section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) with Rangpura police, Sialkot, against Amir and his family members.

However, they said, a court in Sialkot discharged the case after the couple recorded their statements and provided documentary evidence of their marriage.

Police say raid was conducted to comply with court order

Later, after receiving life threats from Nighat’s family, Aamir and his wife left Sialkot, and moved to Bakhshan Khan, where they started living with his (Amir’s) parents.

Meanwhile, on behalf of Nighat’s family, a writ petition was filed against Amir in a court in Chishtian, leveling the same allegations, the court in Sialkot had earlier dismissed as false.

On learning about the fresh writ petition, Amir’s family contacted the Bakhshan Khan police and informed them of the previous court decision. They assured the police that they would appear in the court on the appointed date to present their case.

However, they alleged that on Friday night, a heavy contingent of Bakhshan Khan police forced their entry into Amir’s house without any women personnel, ransacked the place, abused the family members, and tortured his mother, an elderly woman, to death.

The police also took the newlyweds in custody. However, later Amir was released because of his mother’s death.

The family demanded that Punjab chief minister and police inspector general (IG) should take immediate notice of the police highhandedness and strict action be taken against the officals responsible for the incident.

However, district police spokesperson, Zahid Rasool, said the police raided the house to recover a woman, complying with a court order. Terming the death of Amir’s mother natural, he claimed that she was a cancer patient and the police did not torture anyone during the raid.

He said the family’s video statement holding the police responsible for the woman’s death was an “emotional reaction”, claiming that now Amir’s family has recorded another video statement, denying police torture.

Source: Dawn