Zaheer denies, brother admits they were in Karachi when Dua Zahra disappeared

our correspondents
Saturday, Jul 30, 2022

Shabbir Ahmed, brother of Dua Zahra’s purported husband Zaheer Ahmed, has confessed that he had accompanied his younger brother to Karachi on April 16 to take away the teenage girl.

The police officer investigating the alleged abduction and underage marriage of Zahra submitted a progress report to a District East judicial magistrate, stating that Zaheer and Shabbir joined the probe after obtaining pre-arrest bail from a sessions court on July 25.

During the interrogation, Shabbir admitted that he accompanied his younger brother to Karachi to take Zahra, he said. However, he added, Zaheer had been insisting that he was not in the city on the day the girl was reported missing.

The officer pointed out that the call data record of Zaheer’s phone number showed his presence in Karachi on April 16. He was also in the city on April 7 and 9. Zaheer’s last location on April 16 was Nooriabad as per the CDR, after which he switched off his cell phone and possibly remained in contact with the girl through his brother’s cell phone or WhatsApp, the IO said.

The CDR of Shabbir’s phone number also showed his presence in Karachi on the day the girl disappeared. In the light of the investigation thus far carried out into the case and the CDR of the accused persons’ phone numbers, he concluded that both were in Karachi on April 16.

Zaheer faces charges of kidnapping the underage girl from Karachi and contracting the illegal child marriage with her in Lahore. His brother, mother and over a dozen other relatives, as well as cleric Hafiz Ghulam Mustafa, who solemnised the marriage, and two eyewitnesses to it have been accused of aiding and abetting the alleged crime. Mustafa, and Asghar Ali, one of the two witnesses, are in judicial custody.

Rind was assigned the case investigation on July 20 after a court ordered the removal of the former IO, DSP Shaukat Shahani.

Shahani had previously submitted the final charge sheet recommending the court to dispose of the FIR lodged on the complaint of Zahra’s parents as “C class” for being “fake” as he claimed there was no evidence to prove the abduction and underage marriage charges.

A fresh investigation carried out into the case on the orders of the magistrate revealed that Zaheer was present in the city the day the girl went missing from her Malir Halt residence. The case will now come up for hearing on August 1, Monday, when the IO is required to submit the charge sheet.

Order reserved

On Friday, Magistrate Aftab Ahmed Bughio reserved his verdict on a plea of the IO seeking permission for a medical examination of Dua Zahra. He would likely to pronounce the verdict today.

Zahra was produced in the court amid tight security on Wednesday, three days after she was brought back to her hometown from a shelter home in Lahore. The magistrate had sent the girl back to the shelter home with the consent of the lawyers representing the parties in the case and directed a child protection officer to ensure that no person was allowed to meet the teenage girl without prior permission of the court.

SHC order

The Sindh High Court on Friday ordered unblocking national identity cards and unfreezing bank accounts of Dua Zahra’s purported husband and his family members, and directed police to not to harass him and to deal with him in accordance with the law.

The order came during a hearing of petitions seeking protection, the unblocking of national identity cards and unfreezing of banks accounts of the family members of Zaheer Ahmed, Zahra’s alleged husband standing trial on charges of kidnapping and marrying her despite her being a minor.

Petitioners Zaheer Ahmed and his brother Shabbir Ahmed, the alleged husband and brother-in-law of Zahra, a Karachi-based teenage girl who claimed marrying Zaheer of her free will, submitted that the national identity cards of the family members had been blocked and their bank accounts frozen on a request of the police when the cops had been tracing the missing girl.

Their counsel submitted that after the recovery of Zahra the case was disposed of and the high court allowed the girl to decide with whom she intended to reside. They said that police and other authorities were approached for the unblocking of the national identity cards of the family members of the petitioners, and unfreezing of their bank accounts, but no action was taken in this regard.

He said that due to the blocking of ID cards and the freezing of the bank accounts of the petitioner and his family members, they were suffering an irreparable loss and it was not possible for them to make ends meet.

He said the act of the respondents was contrary to the fundamental rights of the petitioners and liable to be struck down.

He submitted that the impugned action was enforced under the direction of the court and was not part of the investigation being conducted otherwise in the case; therefore, he cannot file an application before the trial court for undoing the same. He submitted that the purpose of the direction had been achieved; therefore, there was no justification to keep such action still alive.

The court was requested to direct the ministry of finance and the State Bank of Pakistan to immediately unblock the NICs and unfreeze the bank accounts of the petitioners and family members.

The federal and provincial law officers conceded that the alleged abductee had been recovered and there was no need to enforce the directions for blocking the CNICs of the accused and freezing their bank accounts.

A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro, after hearing the arguments of the counsel, observed that the court saw no reason, legal or otherwise, to decline the prayer of the petitioner that his and other family members’ accounts be unfrozen and the CNICs unblocked.

The court observed that its previous observation on the June 3 order with regard to the freezing of accounts was recalled. It ordered that the CNICs and bank accounts of the petitioner and his family members be unblocked and unfrozen.

On the petition of Zaheer Ahmed with regard to treatment by the police in accordance with the law and against his arrest in the case, the court was informed that Zaheer Ahmed had already been granted bail in the case. The police officials and the provincial law officer stated that the petitioner would be treated in accordance with the law.

The court also issued notices to the prosecutor general of Sindh and others on a petition of Zaheer Ahmed seeking quashment of the criminal case against him. He submitted that the family of Zahra was trying to break his sacred tie with the girl with a mala fide intention and ulterior motives.

He submitted that police had earlier disposed of the case against him after the statement of his wife that she was not kidnapped and married him of her free will. He submitted that police had again started an investigation on basis of a medical board report and criminal proceedings have been initiated against him.

He requested the court to quash the criminal proceedings initiated by the police on the basis of the medical board report and restrain the police from harassing him. The court issued notices to the prosecutor general of Sindh, the complainant and others and called their comments on August 18.