Islamabad: A 40-year-old woman, mother of three hailing from Rawalpindi, has been sold to different hands and reached Afghanistan. Her abductors demand Rs300,000 to return the lady while police admits it can’t do anything in this situation.
More seriously, probe into this case by The News reveals that innumerable women from Pakistan are sold to Afghanistan by an organised gang (more than 150 members), which does this through fake marriage deeds. There are also many cases where women are used for sex slavery.
When contacted City Police Officer (CPO) Israr Ahmad Khan said a few cases of fraudulent marriages were reported in various police stations of Rawalpindi. However the police had taken action and busted people involved in such crimes.
However, there’s only one case of women trafficking to Afghanistan in his knowledge that is of Farzana’s case. He said the police is investigating the issue and soon the culprits would be brought to justice. When asked why the police is taking long time to take action and arrest the people involved in Farzana’s abduction, he said though she was living in Rawalpindi but according to the FIR the abduction took place in Swabi that is the reason of delay.
A person from Swabi, involved in this dirty business, shared some horrible facts as to how innocent women belonging to poor families are either deceived or allured by the members of this gang working in the guise of matchmakers.The person, who is known as “Haji”, spoke to The News in a recorded conversation revealing how the women are trapped, exploited and even sold in Afghanistan. According to his claim, the gang is freely operating in two areas “Fouji Colony” and “Khanna Pull” in Rawalpindi. He alleged the police of these areas are fully aware of the activities of the gang. Whereas, a prayer leader of nearby area is also involved as he registers fake Nikkah by taking Rs5,000 as a commission per case.
This gang is freely working in the federal capital and Punjab where they allure common middle aged women in the name of matchmaking and smuggle them to Afghanistan where they are selling them for Rs300,000 to Rs 500,000. Despite knowing the activities of such gang, the police say that such cases of smuggling are out of their range and only Pakistan Army could take action and bring the women back.
This scandalous business was revealed when this correspondent started probing a case of missing woman – Farzana wife of Arshed Mehmood, who is a resident of Rawalpindi.
Farzana, 40, mother of three kids and resident of Rawalpindi, according to an FIR, got registered by her husband was kidnapped and taken to Swabi and then smuggled to Afghanistan where she was sold twice to different persons.
The FIR registered on January 1, 2017 with Airport Police Station Rawalpindi, a copy of which is available with The News says that Mukhtar, a matchmaker by profession, kidnapped Farzana and despite passage of almost a month she was missing. However the police took no action even after passage of another month and a half after registering the FIR.
The News then contacted Arshed Mehmood (Farzana’s husband) who said that he received a phone call from Afghanistan No (0093706500822). The person on the phone introduced himself as an agent who bought Farzana in Rs150,000 and demanded Arshed to give him Rs300,000 and then he would return her back otherwise he would sell her to someone else.
The Afghan agent let Farzana talk with her husband who told him how she was kidnapped and now she was an undisclosed location somewhere in Afghanistan.
According to Arshed Mehmood, during the phone call, Farzana told him she was sold to an aged person after administering Nikkah. When that aged person came to her she told him the reality that she was already married and had three kids. The old man was kind and religious so he brought her back to the agent and took back his money, narrated Arshed quoting Farzana as saying.
Farzana is now in custody of the agent who is demanding Rs300,000 from her husband. However her husband is a daily wager and according to him he is hardly feeding his kids then how he could manage such a huge amount to bring his kids’ mother back.
The police on the other hand are sitting idle and do move a single step forward to investigate the matter. When contacted the investigating officer of this case Sub-inspector Iqbal told The News that he had carried out several raids to arrest Mukhtar but he escaped.
“I have forwarded the copy of numbers used by Mukhtar to trace out his location but am waiting for the approval from SP office. Soon we will succeed in arresting the person involved in this crime. However the matter of bringing the girl back from Afghanistan is out Police jurisdiction and only Pakistan Army could perform this task,” commented Sub-inspector Iqbal.
After knowing the police is doing nothing, The News then carried out investigation to know the truth how Farzana was kidnapped and how she was trafficked to Afghanistan. This scribe then contacted several numbers provided by Farzana’s husband but all of them were switched off. However, one lucky day the number of an agent “Haji” residing in Swabi who deals the gang’s activities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa turned on and this correspondent asked about Farzana whether she was alive or not.
Haji, initially hesitated and didn’t talk about her and nor about the activities of the gang for almost four days. However, once he started trusting in this correspondent that this scribe was harmless, he told the reality.
He claimed Farzana came to them on her own will as the agent (Mukhtar) paid Rs50,000 to her husband and she was told she would be back to Pakistan in 15 days. But when she told the reality about being married and having kids to the Afghan handlers, the Afghan agent held her as captive and now he was demanding Rs 300,000 from Pakistani agents to cover his losses.
“We have told Farzana’s husband to give the money (Rs50,000) back which he took from Mukhtar and they would bring her back,” commented Haji.
This correspondent then contacted Arshed to know whether he took money (Rs50,000) from the agent, he sworn that he had not got a single penny from anyone. According to him they (agents) are doing this as a pressure tactics so that he could not pursue the case actively.
Initially Haji spoke about Farzana only however, gradually he started telling about the activities of the gang which is based in Rawalpindi. He claimed if he tells the reality there will be a storm because Police know the activity of this gang how much girls they have sold, how they perform fake Nikkah, how the girls return and how they are resold to other people mostly the old villagers.
The next day — sixth day since this correspondent contacted him, Haji alleged that Khanna Pull, Fauji Colony, Chuhur, Koh-e-Noor Mills area in Rawalpindi city are the hub of this gang. There are more than 150 members of this gang who apparently work as matchmaker but this is only a cover.
“First of all we track poor families who have grown-up girls then we bring some matches and offer them a handsome amount of money. What else the poor people would want if their daughters are married and they are paid some money as well. Once they agree we sell them either in Afghanistan or to any of our customer in Punjab or rest of the Pakistan,” claimed Haji while telling this scribe about the methods of their activities.
He said the gang did two type of business first — selling the Pakistani girls in Afghanistan or Afghan girls in Pakistan, second — selling the girls who are part of this gang to the old villagers through fake Nikkah.
“We have sold thousands of girls or performed fake Nikkah in thousands. We have a Nikkah registrar who is the prayer leader of a big mosque in the same vicinity where the gang members are residing who get Rs5,000 as commission per Nikkah,” claimed Haji.
Talking about the gang’s activities in Afghanistan, Haji claimed they had an aged lady known as “Budhi” who led the gang’s activities in Afghanistan. When asked whether she was an Afghan lady, Haji claimed, she was a Pakistan national residing in Swabi and wife of a retired KP Police official. “She takes the girls with her to Jalalabad where she sells them to Afghan agents and distributes the money among the gang’s members,” informed Haji.
This scribe then visited one of the areas pointed out by Haji and where Mukhtar (agent) lived, however the locals of the area and shopkeeper told this scribe that he had shifted somewhere else. When asked how long he had lived there, the local responded they just came a month or two ago but now they had left.
It is pertinent to mention here that even Haji pointed out that their people kept changing their houses so that they could not be traced by their previous ‘preys’ whom they sold the girls.