27th April 2022
By Umar Bacha
On April 14, Muhammad Mazhar, a resident Chatta Batta on the outskirts of Mansehra, lodged a complaint at the Saddar Township police station against one Shehzad Khan for abducting his little sister. A case was registered, but police were unable to recover the girl in a raid on the home of the nominated accused.
But on Monday, April 25, acting on a tip-off, police found Alisha hidden in a closet in the home of the suspect’s relatives. Upon questioning however the minor girl told police she had married of her free will, a statement which she maintained in court as well. Although her B-Form states she is 14 years old, her age is recorded as 18 on her nikah-nama.
“The girl appears to be a minor, and according to her parents’ statement she is around 13, 14 years old,” said Sajjad Khan, District Police Officer Mardan. “It remains to be seen whether the court will accept the nikah-nama, and whether it will decide to send the girl with her parents or her abductor.”
Police shifted the girl to Dar-ul-Aman where she will remain until a medical board constituted under orders of the court is able to determine her actual age.
Hameed, Alisha’s paternal uncle, told Voicepk.net that the suspect involved in his niece’s abduction is already wanted in various criminal cases but has obtained pre-arrest bail.
“He is involved in trafficking drugs and nominated in rape cases, he is trying to take advantage of our little girl. We request that she be returned to us.”
Alisha’s maternal uncle Roshan claimed that the medical report is nearly complete and that the girl is 13 years old.
He added that she was abducted by the accused, who then paid off a nikahkhwan Rs. 50,000 to marry the two – details which only came to light following Alisha’s recovery in the police raid.
“The police did well in the investigation, and we are confident that the court will rule in our favour,” he stated. “We suffered an injustice – she is 14 years old per her B-Form and the medical report determined she is 13 years of age.”
In the past week, there has been an uptick in reported cases of underage girls disappearing from their home, only to turn up married to their alleged abductors.
According to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Sahil, an average of eight underage boys and girls were sexually abused every day in 2020, while 324 child marriages took place that same year.
Alisha’s abduction, like other such incidents reported recently, turned out to be a case of child marriage. However, in light of emerging evidence, the girl’s family is hopeful that the courts will grant them justice.