" There was no way I could verify the ages so I agreed to solemnise the marriage," Nikahkhwan Manzoor.
Two men arrested by Darya Khan City police from a ceremony arranged for solemnising marriage of their children, allegedly in a wani arrangement, were on Tuesday sent to Mianwali jail on a judicial remand.
SHO Tariq Gillani had raided the wedding in Fauji Colony on Monday on a complaint filed by Muhammad Younas, grandfather of the nine-year-old girl. Younis submitted in his complaint that marriage of his grand daughter had been settled with 11-year-old son of a neighbour, Sadiq, by a panchayat convened a week ago by one Zulqarnain Haider. He said the panchayat was held on Sadiq’s sexual harassment complain against his son, Shahzad, who he claimed was a drug addict. Shahzad was alleged to have harassed Sadiq’s wife under the influence.
Besides Shahzad and Sadiq, the FIR registered under Sections 310 and 13 B/65 of the Pakistan Penal Code identified the nikahkhwan, Maulvi Manzoor, and witnesses Amir and Zubair.
The complainant said he had not mentioned Zulqarnain Haider’s name in the FIR because he thought his son was to blame in the matter. “There would have been no need for the panchayat had he (Shahzad) not been unreasonable towards Sadiq’s wife,” he said.
During questioning by police, Shahzad and Sadiq, however, denied that the marriage was ordered by a panchayat. They told the police that they had themselves arranged the marriage. They said Shahzad’s daughter’s marriage with Sadiq’s son was to be followed by his son’s marriage with Sadiq’s daughter.
Talking to The Tribune, Shahzad’s wife, who has moved to her brothers’ house following the incident, also endorsed his statement. She said young marriages were a routine in their families. She alleged that the girl’s grandfather, Muhammad Younis, had forged the complaint because he wanted to marry her to someone else.
SHO Gillani said the ceremony was underway when the raid took place. However, he said, Maulvi Manzoor had fled the scene before police could arrest him. “There were a lot of people. We tried our best to catch all the nominated suspects but could get our hands only on Shahzad and Sadiq,” he said.
Talking to The Express Tribune from an undisclosed location, Manzoor said his request to see the girl, required under the Islamic law, was turned down by the family. “They said it was against the traditions. I then asked them to let me see the girl’s reflection in a mirror, but they refused,” he added. The cleric said he could not verify the couple’s ages because, according to the families, their identity cards had been lost in the 2010floods. “There was no way I could verify the ages so I agreed to solemnise the marriage,” he said. The cleric said he was paid Rs5,000 for the task, which, he added, was more than twice the standard Rs2,000.
Bhakkar district police officer Rai Ijaz Ahmed told The Tribune that a team had been formed to arrest the remaining suspects. He said SDPO Akram Khan Niazi was in charge of the team.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.