KARACHI: Dua Zehra is free to live with whoever she wants, the Sindh High Court ruled on Wednesday, ending a public battle between the teenager and her parents on the question of her kidnapping.
A married Dua Zehra was recovered from Punjab’s Bahawalnagar last week after she had gone ‘missing’ from her home in Karachi. Her parents filed a petition that she was kidnapped.
The court issued a three-page written order on Wednesday, stating that it had reached a verdict based on her affidavit. The kidnapping case was inadmissible based on the evidence.
“The purpose of the petition, which we received, has been achieved,” Justice Ghaffar, the presiding judge, said.
While the court was deciding this petition, Dua Zehra was sent to a shelter home. Her parents claimed she was kidnapped. She has said, however, that she married of her own free will. Her age became a contention as under-age marriages are illegal.
The court had ordered a medical test to determine her age. Advocate General Salman Talibuddin said that the test showed that Dua Zehra is 17 years old. This has been challenged by her parents, who argue that all documents show her to be 14.
“Show all this in the trial court,” Justice Junaid Ghaffar said. The court remarked that it was a recovery case, which has ended.
The advocate general said that the couple had to appear before the court on June 10. The court asked Dua about her meeting with her parents. “I don’t want to meet them,” Dua Zehra said as she started to cry.
‘Girl wants to go home’
The police on Wednesday brought Dua Zehra to the Sindh High Court as it had ordered the investigation officer to present a report within two days after ascertaining the girl’s age during the hearing of the case on June 6.
Police officers stopped the teenager’s family from meeting her as they cried after seeing her go in. Dua Zehra’s mother fainted in the courtroom.
“We were allowed to meet our daughter only for five minutes by the police in the judge’s chamber,” Mehdi Kazmi, her father, told reporters outside the court. “I talked to my daughter in a cordial manner and she agreed to again give her statement. She said, ‘I will speak in front of the judge’ but the police came and grabbed her hand then took her away.”
He was accompanied by his sobbing wife and PPP leader Shehla Raza. The court had allowed the parents to meet the daughter in the judge’s chamber.
The mother alleged that the police officials misbehaved with them. The father went to the judge and requested that the girl again wanted to give a statement that “she wants to go home”. But, the judge did not take the statement, he added.
“The statement is given once, not every time,” Kazmi quoted the judge as saying.
“They have taken my daughter and they will brainwash her… and threaten her and then she will say the same thing,” said her mother, who fainted in court.
To a query, Kazmi said they would again try to meet his daughter. “But, why the judge did not take the statement of my daughter again. She would have come back home after recording of the statement,” he said, “In the five minutes meeting, all her fear ended.”
Kazmi reiterated that a police officer and a person in white shalwar kameez took his daughter away after grabbing her hand. “Upon arguing, the man claimed to be the father of the girl.”
Dua’s mother claimed that the same man was guarding her daughter while coming to the court.
Advocate Altaf Khoso, who represents petitioner’s father Mehdi Kazmi, said the court has not ordered that the case proceedings would be held in Lahore. “The court said we will give the order in a while. The investigation officer would further submit a challan after looking at the case in the magistrate court and the honourable magistrate would give an order.”
Earlier, PPP leader Shehla Raza said that the parents have all the records and the birth certificate to prove their claims. “The girl was abducted when 16 years and 11 months had passed to her parent’s marriage. The girl was recovered after 50 days and the medical report says the girl is near seventeen years of age,” she said.
The medical report has put the age of Dua Zehra between 16 to 17 years.
“Dua Zehra’s height is five feet one inch and her weight is 35 kilogramme,” said the medical report. The medical test was conducted under the supervision of Civil Hospital Dr Larib Gull.
The Sindh High Court on Monday ordered a bone ossification test of Dua Zehra to ascertain her age. The two-member bench, which was presided over by Justice Junaid Ghaffar, had also sent the teenager to a shelter home.
The police presented the couple, Dua Zehra and her husband Zaheer Ahmed, before the court on Wednesday (today) as the court had ordered the investigation officer to present a report within two days after ascertaining the girl’s age and adjourned the hearing of the case till June 8.
Different tests and x-rays were conducted to determine Dua’s age.
Dua’s father Mehdi Kazmi on Monday told the court that her daughter was 14 years old when she was kidnapped. However, his daughter has consistently claimed that is 18 years old and married Zaheer of her free will