By: Waseem Ahmad Shah
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the local police to produce a man, who was allegedly trying to give his teenaged niece in swara to a rival family for settling a feud, before the bench.
A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Yahya Afridi directed the SHO of Daudzai police station to search for the said person, Zahir Khan alias Mullah Jan, and produce him on Nov 1, the date fixed for next hearing.
On the request of the girl the court directed to keep her at the Women Crisis Centre.
The girl had escaped from her residence on Oct 12 and submitted an application to the chief justice seeking protection and stating that her family members including her uncle and brother were giving her in swara to an old man, who was already married and having children.
The girl claimed that many years ago when she was an infant a young Afghan girl had eloped with her uncle, who married her.
She said that a jirga at that time had decided that she would be given in swara to a cousin of the said girl and her marriage would be solemnised once she attained the age of puberty.
When the bench took up for hearing the case mother of the victim, who is also an Afghan refugee, appeared in person along with a counsel, Ashfaq Ahmad. She stated if her daughter was not willing for the marriage she should have told her instead of running away.
The bench inquired from her where was uncle of the victim and why he had not turned up before the court. The woman replied that he was living in a separate house in Haryana area.
SHO Mira Jan said that he would try to inform him to appear before the court. The bench directed him to search for him and positively produce him on next hearing.
The victim told journalists that she would prefer to die instead of returning to her family. When asked whether after her family gave guarantee that she would not be harmed she would go back, the girl replied that she could not trust them.
Before starting of the proceedings mother of the alleged victim tried to convince her to go with her and her family would not marry off her against her wishes. However, the girl told her that she would not go with them.
Her mother and brother tried to dispel the impression that it was a case of swara and stated that the proposed bridegroom was not so old.
However, answering queries put to them by the journalists they conceded that the man was already married and having three children of whom the elder one was a 14-year-old daughter.
They also conceded that her uncle had married the woman, who had eloped with him several years ago and now they were having many children.
The woman admitted that marriage of her daughter was decided with the man many years ago when she was only an infant.
About age of her daughter, she said she was not sure, but she was about a year younger to her brother who was around 18.
She said that she had not seen the would-be bridegroom as he was living in Afghanistan.
The girl has claimed that her father was against this marriage, but now he was dead and her brother and uncle had agreed to marry off her after the festival of Eidul Azha.
She claimed that her uncle had now arranged the marriage of his daughter with her brother owing to which the latter was now accepting their demand to marry her to the man.