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Police ignore marriage of minor girls in Abbottabad

By Usman Manzoor

ISLAMABAD: The Abbottabad police have not touched any of the decision-makers of a Jirga who had ordered a five-year and an eight-year-old minor girl to be married to a 23-year-old man and 15-year-old boy.

The Jirga took the decision because the uncle of the girls had entered into a court marriage with a girl of a rival family some six months back.The police had to take action after reports of a Wani case in village Biran Gali, Tehsil and district Abbotabad was reported in the media where a five-year-old Haleema Bibi and eight-year-old Ayesha were given in marriage to 23-year-old Arshad and 15-year-old Hamayun of the opponent family by a Jirga of elders of the area.

The District Police Officer (DPO), Abbottabad, Imtiaz Shah, when contacted said that the police were taking action against the Jirga members. He said most of the Jirga members were hiding after the police action but police would arrest all the responsible persons.

“When an FIR was lodged against the persons, many of them go underground and the same has happened in this case but police would arrest them in the first available opportunity,” said the DPO.

When told that many decision-makers of the Jirga were freely moving in Abbottabad, the DPO said their arrest would take some time as everything could not happen at once. Assistant Coordination Officer, Abbotabad, Mudassir Riaz Malik, said the district government would try to pressurise the police, formally or informally, because the bigwigs of the Jirga were to be brought to justice. He said an FIR had been lodged against the Jirga members and he would not leave any influential person of the Jirga. “If I had to arrest the Jirga members under the MPO, I would to punish those people who had passed such a cruel order.”

Sardar Muhammad Sabir, the head of the Jirga which had ordered the marriage of the minor girls, while talking to this correspondent on telephone, denied that any Nikah was arranged. He said that the media was wrongly propagating this issue.

When told that the cleric who had solemnised the Nikah had confessed that the minor girls were given in marriage to men of the opponent family, the ex-Naib Nazim of Biran Gali said the cleric was lying.

When told that many people who had attended the Jirga had also confessed that the innocent girls were married to men of a family of a girl who had married a boy of minor girls’ family, Sardar Sabir said that those people were not telling the truth.

He said it was a normal meeting of Jirga and both the families of the girls and boys, who got married at their own choice, were present and the family of the boys tendered apology and the girl’s family accepted it. “No Nikah was solemnised at all and the media is wrongly propagating the news,” said the head of the Jirga.

Sources in Abbottabad said that instead of booking the decision-makers of the Jirga, the police had registered an FIR against those who were poor and helpless i.e. the father of the minor girls, fathers of the boys to whom the girls were married and the cleric.

President Progressive Women Association, Shahnaz Bukhari, condemned the alleged police protection to the influential people of the Jirga, and said all those responsible must be brought to justice.
Source: The News