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A court in Lahore on Tuesday allowed Dua Zehra, a teenager who went missing from Karachi on April 16 to be found allegedly married in Punjab, to live with her husband, Aaj News reported.

The Model Town court, while issuing verdict on the police’s plea to send the girl (14-year-old according to her father’s claim and 18-year-old as per her own) to Dar-ul-Aman, rejected the police’s request and allowed Dua Zehra to live with her husband Zaheer Ahmed.

She recorded her statement before Judicial Magistrate Tasawwur Iqbal in the absence of her husband who was sent out of the courtroom.

Earlier a video message of Dua surfaced in which she said she had not been kidnapped and left home herself to marry Zaheer Ahmed. She said her family was forcing her to marry someone else.

Zehra said that she had married of her own free will and she was living a happy life with her husband.

Mehdi Ali Kazmi, the father of Dua Zehra who went missing from Karachi on April 16, denied the claims questioning how his daughter could be 18 years old when he had not even been married for 18 years.

Kazmi said he has Dua’s birth certificate with April 27, 2008, as her date of birth.

He said that his daughter is being forced to give statements against the family,

He said that when investigations were initiated it came to light that Dua used to play ‘Clash of Clans’ video game on her tablet, where a boy named Zaheer Ahmad got in contact with her.

Forced statements

Earlier Dua had filed a petition for protection from her father as her parents expressed fears she was being forced to make statements.

On Monday, her parents held a press conference in Karachi, saying that she is underage and it was illegal for her to be married off. Her father Mehdi Kazmi said his nikkah nama is dated May 7, 2005.

Her parents have said that the nikkah nama or marriage certificate is not registered and thus not legal. “The nikkah is jaali,” said her mother. “The nikkah khwan who is said to have conducted the nikkah says he never did.”

“They can present as many witnesses as they like,” she said.

Her father said that it would be best if Dua were taken into police custody, brought to the Child Protection unit and a proper investigation conducted. “The thing is that the child (bachi) is with them; they can get her to say anything,” her father said.

Meanwhile, the Lahore police said they found Dua in Okara. She and her ‘husband’ were at the DPO’s office. Dua has accused her father and cousin of trying to kidnap her. She filed a petition in a Lahore sessions court seeking protection against harassment, Saeed Baloch of Aaj News reported.

Earlier in the day, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced that Dua Zehra has been found in Lahore, while police claimed that they had her in protective custody.

Speaking to Aaj News, lawyer Jibran Nasir said “If police while investigating a complaint of child abduction finds the child (under 18) has been subjected to marriage, they must note that under the Pakistan Penal Code section 361kidnapping includes “enticement” when the girl is under 16. There is no such thing as “apni Marzi say gayi this” (the girl left on her own).”

The case

Dua went missing from the Golden Town area 10 days ago, triggering a sense of fear among the masses.

A police complaint was registered by Dua’s father on the same day. Initially, the police suspected that Dua had left on her own accord, a claim that was denied by her parents.

CCTV footage also surfaced, allegedly showing Dua leaving her house in the night, which the neighbours corroborated but the parents denied, especially since Dua went missing in daylight.

The SHO related to the case was suspended for sharing non-verified footage.

Police also found a girl in Sangardh that they initially claimed was Dua but it turned out to be another girl who was also missing.