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Monday Jun 17 2019

Lahore police act after Geo News airs story of British-Pak bride's groom-on-run obtained by author

LONDON/LAHORE: Lahore's Capital City Police have taken swift action after and The News highlighted a case of newly-married, 19-year-old British national Afshah Sanam, whose house was raided by police after her father registered a fake kidnapping case against her husband, 27-year-old Saul Steve via police in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir.

Sanam had alleged that her father Khalid Hussain, a Stockton taxi driver who hails from Mirpur, had travelled to both Lahore and Mirpur to file a case against her husband, a professional photographer, whom she had married by her own choice.

According to the woman, her family did not approve of her decision and had used their connections with a leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Kashmir to pressurise Steve's Christian family to force him to divorce her.

Sanam had further alleged that her husband’s aunt had been arrested by police and unlawfully detained for two months to pressurise Steve to divorce her.

Meanwhile, Steve was forced to flee his home to escape arrest and Sanam had returned to Britain to lodge a complaint with the Cleveland Police against her father and other family members.

Ashfaq Khan, the deputy inspector-general of police (DIG) for operations in Lahore, contacted Steve's family home on Sunday after reading the report on News website.

DIG Khan told this correspondent that the kidnapping case had been registered in Mirpur and not Lahore as previously thought. He said police officials in Azad Kashmir may have taken action and visited Steve’s home but the allegations warranted further probe by higher-ups in AJK Police.

The police officer said: “SP Model Town has personally contacted and met the family and spoke to Saul Steve’s father and brother.

"We have assisted the family to move back to their home under police protection and assured them that they will be fully protected and they don’t need to fear anything," he added.

Khan said Lahore's Capital City Police have taken up the matter with their counterparts in Azad Kashmir "to finalise a case investigation of [the] case registered against Saul Steve on merit as [a] fair investigation is basic right of each individual under constitution of Pakistan.

"The action against Steve’s family was prompted by Azad Kashmir police,” he added.

The DIG confirmed that Steve's family was fully protected but that Sanam's husband was staying elsewhere at an undisclosed location with some family and friends.

In a statement, Sanam and Steve expressed gratitude to and The News for publicising their plight that eventually prompted the police for quick action.

“We are thankful for the help you provided. The reaction and help has been swift as soon as our case was highlighted. We had been in so much stress for over two months and Geo News have helped us to get relief within 24 hours.

"We are thankful to the senior police officer DIG Ashfaq Khan, Imran Malik SP Model Town and whole Police Team.

"We hope the police will not allow itself to be used against us but the fact is it was Punjab/Lahore police that raided our homes and detained our aunt for weeks. The police needs to stop spinning and tell the truth.”

Sanam was married to Steve — after he converted from Christianity to Islam — at a ceremony in Lahore on April 20, 2019, and their marriage was registered legally. 

Sanam's father Khalid Hussain and her family were opposed to her marriage to Steve and, according to her, a leader from the PTI’s Azad Kashmir chapter used his influence with the party's government in Punjab to use police and run campaign of terror against the couple and Steve's Christian family.

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