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Arzoo conversion case: Pakistan judge orders husband to be tried for rape, underage marriage

ANI | Updated: Dec 10, 2020 03:47 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], December 10 (ANI): A judicial magistrate on Wednesday ordered the purported husband of Arzoo Raja - a teenage Christian girl who was abducted before being forcefully converted and married - to be tried for rape under the Sindh government's underage marriage act.
The judge ordered the registration of a case against Syed Ali Azhar, Arzoo's purported husband, as well as against cleric Qazi Abdul Rasool Naqshbandi, the justice of peace and facilitators and witnesses under Section 3 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013, Dawn reported.
The magistrate also issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the absconding suspects, while sending the matter to the district and sessions' judge for initiating a trial.
In his 20-page order, the judge noted that from the perusal of the material available on record, it appeared that the 'ingredients' of Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 3 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 (SCMRA) were "attracting" against the main suspect Syed Ali Azhar.
Similarly, the judge said that "ingredients" of Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of the PPC also "attracted" against Azhar, reported Dawn.

The 13-year-old Christian girl, Arzoo Raja, was forcibly abducted allegedly by Ali Azhar, a 44-year-old man in Karachi. Various human rights organizations have demanded justice for Arzoo Raja.
Police had booked Syed Ali Azhar, the girl's alleged husband, and arrested his brothers, Syed Shariq Ali, Syed Mohsin Ali, and a friend, Danish, for allegedly abducting the underage girl, purportedly forcibly converting her and marrying her to a Muslim man.
Regarding the case, the magistrate also took cognisance under Section 4 of the SCMRA, 2013 against the cleric Qazi Abdul Rasool Naqshbandi, Justice of Peace Muhammad Azharuddin, and witnesses Muhammad Danish, Habib, Mahmood Hassan and Junaid Ali Siddiqui. However, the judge noted that since no evidence for initiating trial is available against the suspects Syed Shariq Ali and Danish, both were discharged from the case accordingly for the time being.
According to the first information report of the case registered on his complaint, Arzoo's father Raja stated that on October 13, he and his wife went to work while their son Shahbaz had gone to school. The complainant said his three daughters, including Arzoo, were present at their home in Railway Colony when he received a call from a relative, who told him that Arzoo was missing from the house, Dawn reported.
"The rascal who abducted her has prepared fake papers to show that she is 18-years-old," said her mother.
Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) said the minority girls, particularly the Christians and Hindus, are forcefully converted to Islam and get married to Muslim men.
"The same day's abduction, conversion and marrying is a common practice in such cases and it has happened with Arzoo also in the same sequence," said Naveed. (ANI)