Sunday Jun 05 2022

Over 1.5 months later, Dua Zahra recovered from Punjab’s Bahawalnagar

Dua Zahra (C) and her husband Zaheer Ahmed (L) have been recovered by Punjab police. Photo: file
Dua Zahra (C) and her husband Zaheer Ahmed (L) have been recovered by Punjab police. Photo: file       
  • Punjab police finally recover Dua Zahra from Chishtian area of Bahawalnagar.
  • The couple will be brought to Karachi after completion of legal formalities.
  • The couple was recovered from a lawyer’s house by the CIA police.

LAHORE: In a major development, the Punjab police have finally recovered Dua Zahra — the 14-year-old girl who had mysteriously gone missing from Karachi in April but later declared that she had run away from her home to marry 21-year-old Zaheer Ahmed — from the Chishtian area of Bahawalnagar, it emerged Sunday.

Confirming the report, Anti-Violent Crime Cell SSP Zubair Nazir Sheikh said that Dua Zahra and her husband Zaheer Ahmed have been taken into protective custody. The couple was recovered from a lawyer’s house by the CIA police. 

Dua has been recovered after over one-and-half months since going missing from Karachi.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Punjab police said that Dua Zahra and her husband, Zaheer Ahmed, have been sent to Karachi to further the case’s legal process.

In a bid to put pressure, the Karachi police have already taken all the family members of Zaheer Ahmed into its custody.

Earlier, Dua Zahra’s family had lodged a report about her abduction on April 16, however, she later revealed on the internet that she had tied the knot with Zaheer Ahmed.

Dua Zahra’s mother-in-law demands justice

Dua Zahra’s mother-in-law appealed to the prime minister and Punjab chief minister to provide the couple justice.

In a video statement, she said they were scared, hence, they took shelter here. She said the police took Zahra and Zaheer Ahmed into its custody.

“Dua Zahra is my daughter. Nobody kidnapped her,” the woman said, adding that she came here on her own. Dua’s mother-in-law said when they tried to send her back to her parents’ home, Dua refused. Therefore, they were compelled to get the couple married in the high court.

SHC orders to take back charge of IG Sindh

On May 30, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had directed the Establishment Division to take back charge from Sindh Inspector-General of police (IGP) Kamran Fazal over his failure in producing Dua Zahra before the court.

A two-member bench headed by Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro resumed the hearing of a petition filed by Mehdi Ali Kazmi, the girl’s father.

Reprimanding the police officer over their failure in recovering Dua Zahra — the 14-year-old girl who had mysteriously gone missing from Karachi in April but later declared that she had run away from her home to marry 21-year-old Zaheer Ahmed — the judge sought the opinion of the Establishment Division whether Kamran Fazal is eligible for this post or not.

“It will be better to leave the matter for the executive to decide,” observed the judge.

Rejecting the IG Sindh’s report, the judge remarked that the police officer submitted an unrealistic report in the case.

The SHC directed the authorities concerned to assign an "efficient" officer to the post and issued a show-cause notice to Fazal on his "unwillingness" to perform in the case.

It is worth mentioning that on May 18, the Sindh government had appointed Dr Kamran Fazal as Sindh police chief — an officer of the Police Service of Pakistan (BS-21) — after sacking Mushtaq Mahar from the post.

“In a manifest demonstration of such callous conduct, the court directed the IG Sindh to intervene and recover the child. On 24.05.2022, the IG appeared in court and submitted a rather fanciful story that a mobile signal, allegedly of one of the abductors, was being monitored across the length and breadth of the country, traversing through Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir, however, other than that no effort whatsoever was taken to find/recover the child,” the court order read.

It further noted that despite it being apparent that no serious effort had been expended to recover the child, this court exercised restraint and accepted the IG’s undertaking that the child would be recovered before the next date.

“It remains our tentative assessment that the IG Police, Kamran Fazal, remains unwilling to perform his duty, despite repeated direct orders,” it noted.

The court asked Fazal for an explanation on why the proceeding may not be initiated. The SHC also directed Fazal to appear before the court in person along with his affidavit at the next hearing.

“In so far as his ability to perform his duty is concerned, we feel it’s prudent to defer the said issue for due consideration to the executive. The Secretary Establishment Division is directed to immediately look into this matter and form an opinion, within a reasonable time, as to whether there ought to be an inquiry to determine whether Kamran Fazal is fit to hold a position of responsibility concerned with the lives and liberty of citizens,” the order read.

Meanwhile, the court said that the present role/charge of the IG Sindh may be assigned forthwith to an “efficient” officer and the officer would be conveyed the court’s directions to produce the missing child on the next date of hearing.

SHC directs interior ministry to help recover Zahra

On May 25, the SHC had directed the federal interior secretary to issue directions to all the relevant law enforcement agencies to extend cooperation with the Sindh police for the recovery of Dua Zahra, an alleged underage girl who went missing from Karachi last month and later found to have married a man in Punjab.

Hearing a petition for the recovery of Dua and cancellation of her marriage under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act filed by her father, a division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro asked the Sindh police chief why the missing girl had not been traced and produced despite court directions.

The IGP submitted that Dua and her spouse were recently located in Balakot, Mansehra, but when police teams went to Balakot, the couple had already left and now their location had been traced in Azad Kashmir.

The IGP and Criminal Investigation Agency DIG also filed a progress report with regard to the recovery of Dua. The high court observed that despite repeated directions of the court, no compliance had been made out and as per the mobile phone signals of the girl’s ‘spouse’, the police chased them sometime in Punjab and sometime in KP as well as Azad Kashmir.