Underage marriage case: SHC orders formation of media board to determine Arzoo’s age

KARACHI:The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday ordered health secretary to constitute a medical board to determine the age of Arzoo, a Christian girl whose family claim she is a underage as she was allegedly abducted before being converted into Islam and married to a 45-year-old Muslim man Ali Azhar.


A SHC bench, headed by Justice KK Agha heard the petition filed by parents of the girl through their counsel Muhammad Jibran Nasir. Arzoo and Azhar were produced before the court today. During the hearing, the girl stated that she is an 18 years old.


At which, the court said that according to documents, your age is less than what you claim. “As she is converted into Islam so her age is 18 years after creation of Islamic documents,” the girl replied.


“A medical board will be constituted to determine and decide about your age,” the Justice said.“I was not abducted by anyone,” Arzoo said and requested the court to allow her to remain with her husband. Barrister Salahuddin appeared before the court in the case hearing on behalf of Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari. The bench ordered constitution of a medical board to determine the age of the girl.


The court ordered that she should be sent for medical examination in the supervision of lady police. Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case till November 09. The parents of the girl said that Arzoo Raza alias Arzoo Fatima, a 13-year-old Christian girl, was abducted and forced to convert into Islam and marry to Azhar.


However, a large number of people belonging Christian community gathered inside the court premises and chanted slogans for her recovery. Talking to media persons outside the courtroom, Jibran Nasir, the counsel of victim family, said that whatever girl is saying right was the result of pressure. “If he (Ali Azhar), has committed the crime of abducting a 13-year-old girl, then he must have had sexual relations with her which resulted into pressurizing her,’’ Nasir said.


He said: “This is a crime, a kidnapping case, as the witness in this case is a policeman, and the accused’s two brothers are also policemen so the accused is getting benefit of it.”


“I hope the court will provide justice, because we are standing before the court for justice. The girl’s parents are worried, the court has taken the girl into custody, and she will get justice. Bring the progressive face of Pakistan to the world, stop crime in the name of preaching,” Nasir said.


Arzoo’s mother said while crying before the media that her girl be handed over to her and stop injustice with them. She claimed the girl is 13 years old as the NADRA documents had also proved it. In the FIR of the case registered on the complaint of Arzoo’s father, Raja, he claimed that on Oct 13, he and his wife went to work while their son Shahbaz had gone to school and in the meantime, his three daughters, including Arzoo, were present at their home in Karachi’s Railway Colony when he received a call from a relative, who told him that Arzoo was missing.


Raja said he reached home and contacted his neighbors, but could not trace his daughter. He lodged a case regarding the abduction of his daughter against unknown persons at the Frere police station.


Two days later, on October 15, police summoned Arzoo’s parents to the station where they presented the couple with marriage and conversion documents. These documents claimed Arzoo was 18 and that she had converted to Islam and married Azhar willingly. According to Raja, the kidnapper lived near their house and was a Sindh government employee. He added that Azhar had abducted Arzoo with the help of his brothers, Mohsin and Shariq, and a friend.