Rights Watch | 18th December 2020

Arzoo Raja case prime accused Syed Ali Azhar granted bail by sessions judge against a surety bond of Rs. 500,000. Facilitators including a cleric who officiated the marriage were also granted pre-arrest bail. Azhar was booked for rape, a non-bailable offense, and section 3 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act 2013. For more stories on human rights concerns, keep reading.

Rights Watch

Arzoo Raja case suspect granted bail

District and sessions court (South) judge Faiza Khalil granted bail against a surety bond of Rs. 500,000 to Syed Ali Azhar, who stands accused of abducting, forcefully converting, and marrying an underage Christian girl. Azhar was booked under section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code, and section 3 (punishment for a male contracting party) of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act 2013.

pre-arrest bails were also granted to Qazi Abdul Rasool Naqshbandi, the cleric who had performed the wedding rites, Justice of Peace Azharuddin who had issued the marriage certificate, and lawyer Mahmood Hasan for facilitating the marriage. The suspects had filed for bail against surety bonds worth Rs. 100,000 each.

The prime accused’s counsel contested that his client did not stand accused of rape as the girl had already reached puberty and was, therefore, an adult per Islamic shariah law. Moreover, the Supreme Court had ruled that in the case that in case of any contradictions in law, Islamic jurisprudence on the matter would be superior.

Protesters demand arrest of journalist’s killers

Family members, friends, members of the Christian community, and the journalist fraternity staged a protest on Thursday, December 17, against the failure of the district administration and police to apprehend journalist Qais Javed Masih’s killers.

Masih was murdered in a drive-by shooting outside his home in Dera Ismail Khan on December 7. Police have yet to apprehend the assailants as well as determine a motive for the crime.

Protesters on Thursday lamented the lack of progress in Masih’s murder, which they termed was not only an attempt to silence free press but also an attack on the minority Christian community of D. I. Khan, and called for the inclusion of 7-ATA in the FIR.

Masih is the fourth journalist to have been killed in Pakistan this year.

Karachi woman recovered from kidnappers

Karachi police managed to recover a woman within hours of being abducted from her workplace by suspects Omair and Yasin. According to the report, the two men lured her out of the bank where she was employed and then forced her into their van. A security guard who had witnessed the abduction promptly called 15.

Police were able to trace the van to Shafiq Mor where they were able to rescue the woman and her kidnappers. The initial inquiry revealed that Omair was the woman’s coaching batchmate and had proposed to her, which she declined. A case has been registered against the suspects.