RAWALPINDI: Two girls from Charsadda were allegedly abandoned by their uncle who brought them to Rawalpindi on Friday and left them in the Ayub National Park. The Pashto-speaking girls were rescued by a taxi driver who spotted them crying and searching for their lost relative. Physically unharmed, luckily, they were dropped at Women Crisis Centre, Shamsabad, Rawalpindi, by the God-fearing cabbie.
The allegedly abandoned sisters from Charsadda — Bisraaj and Sheherbano — told this correspondent that they are without parental and family care. The father passed away years ago in a road accident and more recently the mother died due to untreated breast cancer. The girls spoke well of their immediate neighbours in Charsadda who took care of them after their mother’s death, provided them with food, did not leave them alone at night and taught them the Holy Quran.
Lala said that he was going to Rawalpindi and would take them to one of its bazaars, informed Bisraaj. Since it was the first time the adolescent was stepping out of house, she was asked to wear her mother’s ‘burqa’. The younger sister was given a black scarf. After reaching the Ayub National Park, their first stop, the uncle purchased two entry tickets, hundred rupee coupons for rides in the amusement park and a promise to be back with food.
“We were very happy and kept watching how other children were taking turns on teacup rides,” said Sheherbano in broken Urdu.
Hours passed but the uncle did not return. The anxious sisters went up to the entry gate and waited for him. There was no way of connecting with him or anyone else. Everyone around was a stranger and the girls had no money. Their father’s cell phone was taken away by the uncle on pretext that it did not have a battery. It was getting dark and rainy and the 500-acre Ayub National Park seemed endless.
The scared little girls had no option but to wait and pray for the uncle to return. They were exposed to serious risks, abduction being just one threat. Murder and physical abuse of girls is common and on the rise.
The girls were brought to the Women Crisis Centre, Shamsabad, Rawalpindi, where a case for psychological assault against the uncle has been registered. The centre’s lawyer, Saima Afzal, noted that the girls, who have no male sibling, are heirs to a modest property, their three-room home in Charsadda. Their planned disappearance from the scene could assist the relatives to take over the property. Under the law, a person under age eighteen cannot take title to real estate.
Child desertion is a crime against humanity. Those committing this crime must be tracked down and punished in accordance with law. In the case of Sheherbano and Bisraaj, the district authorities and Social Welfare Department, Charsadda, will be taken on board, said Women Crisis Centre Manager Rizvana Bashir.
Bisraaj and Sheherbano were lucky to have been rescued by a conscientious citizen and taken to safety. The state must intervene to arrest the escalating graph of abandoned children. It has to define its role in the protection of children and must not leave it at the mercy and kindness of strangers.