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Vani challengers facing death threat

ISLAMABAD, March 3: Fathers of two small Baloch girls who were saved in January by the Supreme Court from being sacrificed to the custom of Vani alleged here on Saturday that a former Balochistan minister arrested in the case was threatening them with death.

Eisa Khan and Meero, the two fathers from Barkhan, charged at a press conference the ex-minister, Abdul Rehman Khan Khetran, had warned them to give their seven- and nine-year-old daughters in Irjayee, the worst form of Vani, to his bodyguards by March 5 or face retribution.

They appealed to the president to save them from the wrath of the former minister whose wife is a sitting minister in the provincial government.

The case had made headlines when the Supreme Court, acting on the fathers’ appeal, saved the girls from Irjayee, in which girls are promised even before they are born to settle a tribal feud.

The Supreme Court’s intervention also made police to rescue six members of the girls’ tribe who were kidnapped after their families refused to honour the custom and ordered the arrest of the ex-minister for his involvement in the inhuman saga.

According to the fathers their to-be-born daughters were pledged into marriage to rival clan to settle a blood feud. But the men they were pledged to died before they were born.

Now the sons of the dead men, who are over 40 and are bodyguards of the former minister, are claiming the seven- and nine-year-old girls.

Rejection of the claims by the girls’ families has reignited the old feud, the fathers said.

“My daughter cannot be married to a man of her grandfather’s age,” said Eisa Khan. “Verdicts given by tribal Jirgas are not all Gospel truth and can be challenged and proven wrong and inhuman”.

He alleged the area police was protecting the former minister because of the power exercised his minister wife. It refused to register the report of the recovery of his family members from what he called “the private jail of the former minister”.

“There is no one to help us. Despite the constant threats to our lives, police are pressing us to give them in writing that we don’t need the two police security guards the Supreme Court has provided us,” Eisa Khan said.

He appealed to President Musharraf to take action and provide them protection as the minister was “too powerful”.

Source: Dawn

Date:3/4/2007

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