Arzoo case: Pak court orders 13-yr-old be shifted to shelter home

The 13-year-old Christian girl-- Arzoo Raja---was forcibly abducted allegedly by Ali Azhar, a 44-year-old man in Karachi.

Sindh: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Sunday ordered that the teenage Christian girl who was abducted before being forcefully converted and married to a Muslim man be shifted to a shelter home said Pakistan Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari.

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.

The judge has ordered that the girl be recovered by police and relevant agencies and shifted to a shelter home. Next hearing fixed for Thursday morning [November 5]. My lawyer has informed the court that an intervener will be filed on my behalf,” Mazari said on Twitter.

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The investigating officer in the case, Inspector Shariq Ahmed Siddiqui, had stated that the victim had appeared before the SHC and was sent under the protection of the SHO of the Preedy police station in compliance with the court’s Oct 27 order.

He said he had called in the verification of the victim’s B-form, which as per the National Database and Registration Authority, was genuine.

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.

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

Arzoo’s family members earlier this month told Dawn that her purported husband Azhar lived in a house opposite theirs along with his family and he was at least 45-years-old. “The rascal who abducted her has prepared fake papers to show that she is 18-years-old,” her mother said.

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 minority girls first get abducted and mostly the local police stations where the victim’s family submits the complaints about her missing, inform about her conversion to Islam and getting married to the same abductor.

“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.

The HRFP fact-finding team brought out the facts that in proceedings of Sindh High Court dated October 27, 2020, all her records were altered including age, stating her as 18-year old and statement of her free will marrying and embracing Islam.

It is also found that Arzoo’s picture was also replaced on legal documents, as raised by her mother Rita.

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.

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