Hyderabad, Aug. 14: In 10 minutes of one another, Afreen, Farheen and Sultana were married. To a stinking rich 60-year-old sheikh from the Emirates.
Mohammed Baquer Khan had gifted the girls’ poor parents ' all staying in the Kalapathat slum in the old city of Hyderabad ' Rs 10,000 each and promised another Rs 10,000 each plus visas for their families to move to the UAE.
If there was money to be got as well as a husband for their daughters, what difference did it make if the girls were only 17, 20 and 19'
The wedding was held sometime at July-end. Last Thursday, the girls filed a complaint with police that the sheikh had disappeared, promises and all.
The trio had been among 10 girls paraded in front of the sheikh in the house of one Mumtaz Begum, who, along with accomplices Toufiq and Mansoor, had convinced them they would never go hungry again if they agreed to the marriage.
The sheikh tied the knot the same day in a simple no-frills ceremony, presided over by one Mansoor Ali. There were no witnesses at the wedding.
“The Arab married all three of us within 10 minutes of one another. All three of us spent several days with him at a city lodge,” Afreen said.
Last Monday, the sheikh told the girls to go home and come back after two days. When the girls went back on Wednesday, he was gone.
Panicky, they went to Mumtaz’s house. It was locked. So they decided to go to the police.
A police raid the same day on Mumtaz’s house came a cropper. Yesterday, however, the police managed to track the touts at the fake moulvi Mansoor Ali’s house. All four were arrested.
Deputy police commissioner (west zone) Shandilya said the marriage modus operandi was so “stereotyped” that it was amazing how people could fall into the trap over and over again.
“It has become so common we don’t know how people in the old city fall prey to it again and again,” he said.