Minister accuses Sindh police of failing to stop kidnapping of girls – 11 Apr 2023

KARACHI: In a strong reaction to `incompetence` of police authorities, Minister for Women Development Syeda Shehla Raza said on Monday Sindh police had failed to check organised gangs from upcountry who `kidnap` young girls or `take them away` on different pretexts and then blackmail their families for money for their safe return.

Addressing a press conference along with families of two such girls, aged 12 and 13,who had been missing for the past couple of months, the minister said that after making efforts for the girls` recovery, their families were now receiving video and text messages from suspects in Punjab demanding money for their safety and return.

She regretted that the Sindh police were always found to be least bothered to pursue investigations into such cases and the lawenforcement agencies in Punjab never cooperated with the families of these victims.

`There are organised gangs which are targeting young girls in Sindh towns and cities,` she said. `It`s a racket run by large number of dif ferent gangs. They target the girls through different mediums of social media whereyoung boys engage the girls to win their trust. In some cases, these gangs,approachthe victims` families with marriage proposals for their male members and then take awaygirls,` she claimed.

Referring to the case of a 12-year-old girl, the minister said she developed friendship with a boy through online gaming. The two came closerand she was now missing for the past more than two months after she had left her home, taking away all valuables, cash and property documents with her, she said.

`After having searched her everywhere, the family started receiving calls from the girl in distress, seeking their help and money for returning home. The poor family somehow arranged the amount and made the payment but the girl has not returned yet,` said Ms Raza.

She also cited the case of another 13-year-old girl, who had been missing for the past many months and despite having searched her in different parts of the country her family was still clueless about her.

The family was approached over phone with a marriageproposal for the girl but the family refused on grounds that she was too young to get married, she said.

`A day after that, the girl went missing from home. The family contacted caller on the same phone number and was told that the girl was leaving the city on a bus from Sohrab Goth. They mounted a desperate search but in vain. When they contacted again, they were told that the girl was in Rawalpindi and then in Lahore,` she said.

Since then, the family had been running from pillar to post but the girl was not found, the minister said and added: `And now the family had started receiving video messages suggesting torture on the girl and making demands for money for her life and safety.The minister wondered how the police in Sindh failed to check such activities going on for the past many years and did not bother to go after the criminals who were freely moving from one area to the other, making phone calls and taking away girls.

She said unlike Sindh where girls were not allowed to get married before turning 18, these gangs were also exploiting laws in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, where marriage of a girl before 18 was allowed.

`I have a meeting scheduled with the Sindh police chief and we are also approaching the Sindh High Court. I hope the police authorities and the other institutions will play their role to stop this menace, she added.

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