The Anti-Violent Crime Cell of the police on Monday rescued teenage Christian girl Arzoo Raja and arrested a 44-year-old man who allegedly married her after abducting her and forcibly converting her to Islam.
Raja, father of the 13-year-old girl, had lodged a kidnapping case against Syed Azhar Ali at the Frere Police Station a few days ago. In the FIR, the complainant stated that his daughter had been kidnapped from their residence in Karachi on October 13.
Police said the girl had been shifted to a shelter home, and her alleged husband had been arrested. Ali will appear before a court in custody today. Sindh law adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab confirmed through a tweet that Arzoo had been recovered.
To show solidarity with the family of Arzoo Raja, a teenage Christian girl at the centre of an underage marriage and forced conversion case, and to pressure the government into solving the case, Punjab Minister for Human Rights/Minorities Affairs Ejaz Alam Augustine and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s MNA Shunila Ruth arrived in Karachi. They met Christian community leaders and senior police officers, and asked them to provide safety to Arzoo’s family.
Later, speaking at a press conference at the Insaf House, the party’s Karachi secretariat, Augustine and Ruth said they hailed the Sindh High Court’s Monday’s orders for the authorities to immediately recover Arzoo and present her in the court on November 5.
“It was the prime responsibility of the Sindh government to provide safety to the people, particularly those from minority communities,” said Augustine, who was accompanied by Leader of the Opposition in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, MPAs Sanjay Gangwani, Sidrah Imran and Rabia Azhar.
“But the Pakistan Peoples Party’s provincial government has badly failed not only to provide them safety but also implement the child marriage restraint act to stop underage marriages,” he said.
“We came to Karachi in the case of Arzoo because we know that Arzoo will not be recovered by the tweets of ministers of the Sindh government,” he said. The Punjab minister said that Nadra’s documentation proved that Arzoo was born in 2007 and is 13 years old, but fake affidavits have been submitted in the court to show her an 18-year old.
MNA Ruth, who is also the PTI minority wing’s central president, said the rise in such cases had created fear among the minority communities living in the Sindh province. She said the federal government and Prime Minister Imran Khan had been taking notice and playing their role in resolving the issue.
“We, as the minority parliamentarian, received so many phone calls. Many of our people had sleepless nights after such incidents,” she said. Naqvi said Sindh might be ahead of the rest of the country when it came to introducing laws in the province, “but the government has badly failed to implement most of the bills, including the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013”.
He said that according to the law, Arzoo should be kept in a shelter home. Naqvi demanded suspending the SHO of the case immediately. He said the Sindh government should take some practical steps to resolve the issues of minorities in the province.