Friday August 12, 2022

Hunt on for Dua Zehra, purported husband, court told

May 26, 2022

A Karachi court on Wednesday extended by six days the physical remand of two suspects in the Dua Zehra case.

The police produced Hafiz Ghulam Mustafa, who solemnised the 14-year-old girl’s alleged free-will marriage, and Asghar Ali, one of the two witnesses of the marriage, before East Judicial Magistrate Aftab Ahmed Bughio on the expiry of their remand.

Zehra’s purported husband, Zaheer Ahmed, the Nikah Khuwan (marriage officiator), and two witnesses of the marriage -- Ali and Shabbir Ahmed -- have been booked for allegedly kidnapping the girl in Karachi and arranging her forced marriage.

The teenager had gone missing from the Shah Faisal Colony neighbourhood last month and was later found to have married a man in Punjab. On May 20, the police had produced Mustafa and Asghar Ali before the court and obtained their physical remand until May 25, Wednesday. Both were arrested by the Punjab police from Lahore and later brought to the port city to stand the trial.

Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) SHO Irshad Arain requested the court to extend their remand for further investigations. He stated that their custody was required for questioning about the whereabouts of Zehra and her purported spouse.

Efforts were afoot to trace and recover the teenage girl as police teams sent to Punjab with the approval of the Sindh home department were carrying out raids for the purpose, the police officer said, adding that the Sindh High Court (SHC) had already issued directives for the law enforcement agencies to produce the girl before the court on May 30.

He said the detained suspects made some revelations during the interrogation, which cannot be discussed in the open court for the time being. The magistrate extended the physical remand of the suspects until May 31 and sought a progress report on the next hearing.

Zehra had disappeared from her residence on April 16 and was later reported to have solemnised a free-will marriage with Zaheer in Lahore. In a statement recorded on the directives of the Lahore Model Town judicial magistrate under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), she had denied her alleged abduction and claimed to have contracted a free-will marriage with Zaheer. As per the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) record, the investigation officer said Dua Zehra was 14 years old.

An FIR was registered at the Alflah police station under Section under Section 364-A (kidnapping an underage person) read with Section 3 (punishment for male contracting party) and 4 (punishment for parents or guardian concerned in a child marriage) of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013, as well as Section 3(i) of the Prevention of Trafficking in Person Act, 2018. The case was lodged on the complaint of Dua’s father, Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi.