PESHAWAR, November 30: Few days ago, police had recovered 36 girls from a congested house in Karachi. Twenty among these girls belong to Bajaur Agency. According to police, a madrassa teacher had handed over these girls to a person for their look after to settle a debt issue.
These girls have now arrived at their homes after being transported to Peshawar from Karachi through a plane. TNN correspondent Hanifullah in a chat with Bajaur Political Agent Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada has ascertained facts behind the whole episode and the government’s planned steps to avoid such incidents.
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: People from different areas of Bajaur send their children for religious education. This woman has good reputation in this area. When we enquired about this woman from the area people, we came to know that this woman is in the good books of the local population. She had opened this madrassa in the year 2005 where the parents send their children for religious education and these children return to their homes after completing their religious education. We have met all these religious students. We had no information from Karachi about their names. These children were sent by their parents for religious education. The female teacher just committed one mistake of using these girls to settle her own debt issue. The media created hype after the issue came to surface which also created problems for us in arranging timely return of these students.
TNN: What is the exact number and ages of these female students?
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: There are total 36 girls. One girl belongs to Lower Dir and the rest hail from Bajaur Agency.
TNN: From which areas in Bajaur Agency these girls were sent to Karachi?
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: These girls belong to Basht, Chinargo, Tarkho Shah Salarzai, Salarzai, Dheri, Maula Said, Lal Qala and other areas of Bajaur Agency.
TNN: Have you contacted parents of these students?
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: We have contacted parents of all these students. We also contacted three or four people who were travelling to Karachi at that time. We made that contact through telephone at that time. We had told them at that time that it is our responsibility to bring back these girls. They insisted on going to Karachi. We told them that these girls are our daughters and we will bring them back with respect.
TNN: Wherefrom this teacher has come. Is it true that she also owns madrassas in Bajaur.
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: She belongs to Samarbagh area of Lower Dir. She owns madrassas in her area but she owns no madrassa in Bajaur.
TNN: Is it true that these girls sold?
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: There is no truth in this assumption. If these girls were sold, then that man would not have been gathered local people to give food to these girls. When the girls are sold or kidnapped then they are kept secret, but that wasn’t the case with these girls. It was a debt issue which ultimately led to this episode.
TNN: What measures will you take to avoid such incidents in future?
Muhammad Yahya Akhunzada: We have also received instructions from the governor for registration of all madrassas. Instructions have also been given to get details of the children going outside Bajaur for religious education. We will register their names, addresses and the names of their madrassas. In this way, we will have all the required information to avoid such incidents in future.
Translation and editing by Mr Aamir Khan