The man identified as Jeetmal Mehar offered £5,400 to Pathani Mangrio’s parents to marry her. However, things took a different turn after officers raided the marriage broker’s house just before the contract was signed and arrested 11 people complicit in the deal but the groom escaped.
Gulzar Mari, a policeman investigating the case, said: ‘On December 19, around 11am we received information that a minor girl was being married to a 50-year-old man.
‘We took immediate action and raided the house of Muhammad Mehar. He was the broker in this marriage and had taken £340 from the groom and £170 from bride’s family.’
The bride’s mother Masmat Nabiat said that she had agreed to marry her daughter off as the family had to pay a loan of around £3,400.
She said: ‘My husband was ill and for his treatment we had taken loan from some influential people.
‘My husband is unable to stand on his feet and can’t walk that is why he was not present at the Nikah ceremony of our daughter.
‘Due to financial constraints we couldn’t pay back the loan. The people we had taken money from were pressuring us that they will recover their loan amount by selling our house.
‘Neither I nor my husband wanted to do this injustice to our daughter but we had no choice. The groom also said he will not demand any dowry and he will bear all the expenses of marriage.’
Qazi Haji Solangi, who performed the marriage said: ‘I was approached by Muhammad Mehar for reciting Nikah. I didn’t know the girl is only 10 years old as I didn’t ask for age of bride and groom.
‘I just asked the names of the bride, groom and their parents name and recited Nikah.’
Police in Sindh province have registered a case under Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act and produced all the arrested people before a court on Wednesday.
The court has ordered the bride to be sent with her maternal grandfather and the others to jail until investigation is completed.
Under law, child marriage is a punishable offence in Pakistan with a minimum sentence of two years.