The Dua Zahra case has dominated the news cycle since the Karachi teenager was reported missing in the middle of April. Following reports that she was in one town or another, she resurfaced in Bahwalnagar, Punjab in May. The girl, who was no where close to 18, was also married.
Here are the key developments from the Dua Zahra case.
April 16: Dua Zahra’s parents report her missing. The complaint stated that she went missing from her residence in Karachi’s Golden Town locality of Shah Faisal Town, Korangi. In the first information report, it was stated that the 14-year-old girl had been kidnapped when she left the house to dispose off garbage.
April 20, 2022: CCPO Ghulam Nabi Memon constitutes three special teams to recover Dua Zahra. Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah takes notice of the case as Dua Zahra’s case, and two other similar cases, dominate social media.
April 21, 2022: A video, leaked to the media by a police officer, shows a girl getting inside a vehicle near Dua Zahra’s home. Police claims Dua left of her own will and it wasn’t a case of abduction. The footage was found to be of another girl. The cop who leaked the video is suspended.
April 25, 2022: Dua Zahra found but CM Sindh keeps whereabouts secret citing security purposes. A statement by police says Dua married of her own accord.
The teenager’s parents hold a press conference in Karachi, saying that she is underage and it was illegal for her to be married off.
April 26, 2022: Dua Zahra’s video message surfaces, in which she reveals her marriage to Zaheer Ahmed. She files a petition in a Lahore sessions court seeking protection from her parents.
The couple is produced before a magistrate at Lahore’s Model Town Court, where she tells the judge she willingly entered into a marriage with a boy, Zaheer Ahmad, from Lahore. In light of her statement, court allows Dua Zahra to live with her husband.
May 7, 2022: Karachi police issue an interim challan against four suspects, including Zaheer and three others present at the marriage ceremony. They are charged with kidnapping, rape, and forced marriage.
May 8, 2022: Dua Zahra’s father, Syed Mehdi Ali Kazmi, files a petition in the Sindh High Court for daughter’s recovery.
May 11, 2022: SHC issues notices to concerned authorities to file comments till May 19.
May 19, 2022: A judicial magistrate in Lahore dismisses the police’s appeal seeking Zahra’s medical examination to ascertain her age, on grounds that no such examination can be done without the consent of the concerned person.
May 24, 2022: SHC orders interior secretary to find and produce Dua Zehra by May 30.
Punjab Police informs the Sindh inspector general (IG) that Dua Zahra had moved to AJK.
May 28, 2022: SHC reprimands police over failure to recover Dua Zahra from Punjab and orders the government to replace Sindh Inspector General Kamran Fazal.
June 5, 2022: Punjab police recover missing Dua Zahra from Punjab’s Bahawalnagar.
June 6, 2022: SHC orders medical test of Dua Zehra to determine age. Dua records her statement before the court. “I am 18 and have gotten married of my own free will,” she tells the court
June 7, 2022: Court ruling gives Dua Zahra right to decide who she wants to live with.
June 10, 2022: Lahore High Court instructs Punjab police not to harass the mother-in-law and other in-laws of Karachi teenager Dua Zahra.
June 16, 2022: Sindh police asks court to cancel FIR for Dua Zahra kidnapping, as court ruling defied kidnapping charges.
June 18, 2022: Mehdi Kazmi, Dua’s father, challenges SHC decision in apex court.
June 23, 2022: Supreme Court disposes of petition filed by Dua Zehra’s father against the Sindh High Court’s decision that allowed her to live with whoever she wanted. Lawyer Jibran Nasir says his client will now approach SHC for the constitution of a medical board and a family court to challenge the nikahnama.
June 25, 2022: Court orders police to continue investigation. 10-member medical board constituted to ascertain Dua Zehra’s age.
June 28, 2022: Dua Zahra’s father, Mehdi Kazmi, files petition seeking to replace the investigation officer.
June 29, 2022: Dua fails to appear before medical board’s first meeting.
July 2, 2022: Dua Zahra’s medical tests conducted to ascertain her age.
July 4, 2022: Dua Zahra’s medical examination declares her to be between 14-15 years of age. According to an earlier test, Dua Zahra’s was estimated to be between 16-17 years of age.
July 5, 2022: Dua Zahra’s father files petition in Sindh High Court seeking recovery of his daughter from the illegal custody of Zaheer Ahmed.
July 7, 2022: The Lahore High Court grants interim protective bail to Zaheer.
July 14, 2022: Court rules that the nikkah khwan (marriage registrar) must ask bride and groom for documentary proof of age.
July 16, 2022: The investigation officer (IO) submits his report to the court, which included details of Zaheer’s call detail records (CDR). As per the CDR, Zaheer was in Karachi at the time when Dua Zahra mysteriously went missing.
July 19, 2022: Lahore court sends Dua Zahra to women’s shelter at her request, citing “constant threats” from her parents while also underlining that she was “not on good terms” with her husband.
July 21, 2022: SHC orders that, barring any legal obstance, Dua Zahra be brought to a women’s shelter in Karachi, tells Sindh police to transport her back.
July 23, 2022: Lahore court orders the transfer of Dua Zahra back to Karachi.
July 28, 2022: Noor Bibi, the mother of Zaheer Ahmed apologizes for the distress that Dua Zahra’s family has had to endure in their daughters absence.
July 28, 2022: Karachi court orders that Dua Zahra is to stay at a government-run child protection and shelter home for the duration of the trial.
July 29, 2022: Sindh High Court orders the restoration of bank accounts belonging to Zaheer Ahmed’s family members, including his brother Shabbir Ahmed.
The court had ordered the authorities to block the CNICs and bank accounts of the accused over non-recovery of Dua Zahra.
August 1, 2022: A Karachi local court extended bail Zaheer Ahmed and his brother Shabbir.
The court accepted and extended their bail till August 17.
August 6, 2022: Karachi court dismisses a plea seeking medical examination of Dua Zehra
Her father had submitted an application before the sessions judge to seek a medical examination of his daughter.
Earlier, a judicial magistrate had also turned down the request for the teenager’s medical probe. A decision that was later upheld by the sessions court.
August 30, 2022 Court cancels the bail of Zaheer Ahmed. The Additional Sessions Judge East judge decided to cancel Zaheer Ahmed’s bail and directed the police to arrest him.
The court also removed rape charges from the case, noting that since the couple had solemnized the Nikkah, there was no need to insert rape clauses in the case.
January 6, 2023: The Sindh High Court allows Dua to go home with her parents. The court directed parents to provide complete protection to the teenager and submit surety of Rs1 million.
April 17, 2023. Dua Zehra filed a jactitation of marriage petition through her father Syed Mehdi Kazmi. The court is set to hear the petition on May 17, Kazmi’s lawyer Jibran Nasir told Aaj News.