EMANUEL SARFRAZ

LAHORE - Sana, a 13-year-old Christian girl, daughter of Shahid Jaan, was forced to convert to Islam and then married to 21-year-old Waheed Akhtar, son of Muhammad Bashir, in New Mianapura West of Sialkot.

The incident occurred on November 9 (last Monday). An FIR was registered by Hajipura police on the same day while investigation is underway. Investigation Officer ASI Muhammad Ashraf told The Nation yesterday that they conducted some raids to recover the girl. “The lawyer of the accused told us on phone that they had got pre-arrest bails from the court and will join the investigation on November 16. The girl who is 15-year-old first converted to Islam and then was married to Waheed,” Ashraf said and added the police were very cooperative and immediately registered an FIR on the complaint of Sana’s father.

The Nation has got copies of the FIR and nikahnama (Marriage contract).

Sana is a student of class five and studying at a government primary girls’ school in Mianapura. Her sister Hina is also studying in the same class. They are three sisters and three brothers.

Shahid Jaan said he was a labourer and came to know of the incident when he came home in the evening. “I was shocked to hear the news. My legs were trembling when I heard what had happened. Hina was accompanying Sana on her way back from the school. Waheed Akhtar forcibly took her away. Hina informed the family of the incident. We reached Waheed Akhtar’s house located in the vicinity. He was not at home. His father kept saying he will be back soon, but when he did not turn up, I went to police station and got my complaint registered,” he said.

On a query about Sana’s age, Shahid said she was not an adult. “She was born on April 17, 2002, which means she cannot marry of her own free will. The age can be confirmed from the record of Nadra and the school. This is a barbaric act and should be condemned by everyone. I trust my daughter and believe she was forced to convert. I appeal to the authorities to do justice,” he said.

The girl’s grandfather William John was very upset. “This incident has disturbed the entire family. Think of how the other children are coping with this situation. It is bad that I am alive to witness this day. It should not have happened,” he said.

Many such incidents have been reported in the past. The government needs to develop a mechanism to stop them.