J&K Rebels Force Teen Girl To Wed Chief
24 August 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: A group of Kashmiri militants have allegedly forced a 16-year-old village girl into marrying their commander after she and her parents were abducted from their house at gunpoint. According to a release issued by the police headquarters here on Tuesday, the militants, belonging to the Harkat-ul Mujahideen group led by 'divisional commander' Barkat Ali, alias Yaseen, barged into the house of one Muhammad Din Sheikh at Dewari, in Gandoh area of Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district, and took him, his wife and their daughter Tahira Banoo captive during the intervening night of August 21 and 22. They were taken to a remote place called Behar Nallah (Dhar), where the militants 'forcibly conducted the nikaah of Tahira Banoo with the said divisional commander,' the release said. It added that the girl's parents were later let off. The police said that Barkat hails from Bharti, a neighbouring village, and had reportedly been keeping an eye on Tahira for quite some time. The police did not say whether Tahira's husband had taken her to his home in Bharti, or allowed her to return to her parents' home after the solemnisation of the forced marriage. As per the Shariat, a nikaah solemnised forcibly is invalid even if the required number of witnesses bear testimony, as is believed to have happened in this case. However, a police officer in Doda, when contacted over the telephone, expressed his ignorance about the incident. 'I don't think such an incident has taken place,' he said. But when told that it had been reported in a release issued by the police headquarters in Srinagar, the officer said he would find out. Local reporters also said they had not come across any such incident. The police officer said on condition of anonymity that some militants had in the past married local girls either with the girls' consent, or at gunpoint, and, in fact, a couple of such incidents had led to inter-group clashes resulting in the death of at least one militant commander.