Swat court orders arrest of five accused in swara cases
PESHAWAR: A local court of Swat district has ordered the district police to arrest the persons involved in handover of two minor girls as swara (mostly practiced in interior Sindh and NWFP that requires young girls to marry members of rival groups to resolve disputes) for resolution of a bloody dispute.
Kabal Police on the court directives registered first information report (FIR) against five accused involved in two swara cases and started investigation for including jirga members in the cases, police said.
The Swat District and Sessions Judge Mohammad Sher Shah initiated action on the complaint of Sher Rehman, stating that two minor girls Balanishta and Nazia, were given as swara to two brothers Ali Rawan and Raimoz Khan, sons of Khan Bahadar, resident of Manri area of Kabal tehsil, in compensation for his son Umerzada’s killing allegedly by the rival groups.
Khan Bahadar had charged Mahir Khan, brother of Balanishta, and two brothers of Nazia including Azzatmand and Payanda Sher, in the killing of his son Umrzada on December 22, 2006. According to FIR, Khan Bahadar first booked Mahir Khan in his son’s death. He through a jirga received Rs 600,000 and his sister Balanishta as swara for his son Ali Rawan.
Then he registered another FIR against Azzatmand and Payanda Sher claiming that his son was found dead at their house. Later, through jirga he received Rs 1600,000 and their sister Nazia as swara for his other son Raimoz Khan.
The police have booked Khan Bahadar, Ali Rawan, Ramoz Khan, Azzatmand, Payanda Sher and Mahir Khan in the FIR. “The jirga decision is a violation of the Supreme Court orders that banned the offering of females in Badl-e-Sulh (swara) to a rival party for resolution of disputes,” police officials said, adding that they have started raids for the arrest of the accused. The police officials said that they were also investigating the locals so as to include jirga members in the cases.
Despite police action, swara custom is continued in various parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) for ending enmity and bloody disputes. The government has failed to enforce laws banning the custom of swara and child marriages in the federally and provincially administered tribal areas (FATA and PATA) while the same laws are prevalent in the rest of the country since Jan 11, 2005.
Through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2005 (Act No 1 of 2005), the federal government made handover of girls to rival groups a penal offence. Section 310-A was inserted in the Pakistan Penal Code which orders an imprisonment of up to ten years for the offenders of swara practice. The parliament passed the Act to check honour killings, misuse of hudood and blasphemy laws by police and customs of swara and vani, etc.