Aaj English TV

Saturday, July 13, 2024  
06 Muharram 1446  

Kohistan woman killed on jirga’s orders after photo goes viral

Another woman whose photo went viral has been sent back to her family

An 18-year-old woman has been allegedly killed with the connivance of her own family in the Kohistan area of the Masehra district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the orders of a local jirga (villager elders) after her photo with a man went viral on social media, police said on Monday.

“Some people had uploaded pictures of the two girls,” said Masood Khan, deputy superintendent of police in the Kolai-Palas district, some 150km northwest of Mansehra. They had gone viral on social media a few days ago.

“They shot dead one of them while police rescued the second one,” he said, referring to villagers. Some relatives of the dead woman were among the suspects, police said.

The incident happened in Sharyal in the Kolai Palas district. In response, a local jirga was held on the matter after which the woman was killed with the “consent of her family”.

Police registered a first information report of the killing under sections 109 (abetment in crime), 302 (punishment of qatl-i-amd or premeditated murder) and 311 (punishment after the waiver of qisas) of the Pakistan Penal Code. They have claimed to have arrested the victim’s father.

The caretaker KP chief minister, Justice (retd) Arshad Hussain Shah, said he had ordered police to “immediately arrest” those responsible.

He contacted the additional home chief secretary and called for taking all necessary measures to conduct an immediate inquiry into the incident and submission of the report at the earliest.

“Supremacy of law and order would be ensured at all cost,” the interim CM said and called for protection of the companion of the victim.

“We are investigating and those who aided and abetted in the incident will also be brought to justice,” Khan said, adding that male relatives of the young woman were believed to be involved in the killing.

The other woman was presented in court on Monday where she said she “did not feel her life was in danger.” She was sent back to her family’s house instead of the Darul Aman (women shelter home) after the court investigated her safety, Khan added.

The victim’s body has been handed over to her family after a medico-legal examination.

Meanwhile, the boy in the photo has gone into hiding and his whereabouts are still unknown.

However, DPO Kolai Palas Mukhtiar Tanoli claimed that the girl’s family killed her after making a decision among themselves. “The local jirga was not held.”

Earlier, the local jirga was reported to have ordered the killing of the victim.

DPO Tanoli alleged that the victim’s father, uncle, and brother were involved in the murder.

“The suspects will be punished and the implementation of the law will be ensured,” Palas said.

The incident happened more than a decade after five women and four men were killed in the same area. A video of the women clapping as the men danced had gone viral, prompting a local jirga to order their killing.

Last year, an appeals court acquitted the brother of a social media star, Qandeel Baloch, of her murder, a 2016 killing that sparked national outrage and changes in laws covering honour killings.

Did acquittal of Kohistan video scandal suspects trigger killing?

“There are no words [to express] as we continue to condemn these incidents,” human rights activist Farzana Bari said as the girl’s death reminds people of the past incidents in Kohistan.

Bari, who had joined Aaj News special transmission on the case, said that it was not the first case in KP’s area. She reminded the viewers of the infamous 2012 Kohistan video scandal in which three people, who were relatives of the slain girl, were sentenced to life.

At least five women and four men were killed in the video scandal. Muhammad Afzal Kohistani, who made the news public and exposed the honour killing murders, himself was shot dead in Abbottabad in March 2019.

The people were afraid and such type of punishments by the jirga had ended after the arrest of the suspects, Bari said, referring to locals.

She was of the view that the acquittal of all the suspects gave a “message” that village elders wouldn’t be punished for their orders.

“Arresting the victim’s father is not enough,” Bari said, pointing towards the people who issued the decree.

The human rights went on to add that jirgas have been already declared illegal and demanded that police should take action if such meetings were held. She stressed the need for making a monitoring mechanism, comprising policemen, civil society, lawmakers, and people’s representatives, at the local level to stop such illegal activity.

According to Aaj News bureau chief in KP Farzana Ali, it was not appropriate to send the second girl back to the same environment where a girl was killed. But police have assured the reporters of having all arrangements provide security to the girl, she added.

“There is no room for forgiveness in the conventional environment,” she said while speaking about the mountainous area. While highlighting the history of Kohistan, Ali said that some people take vengeance on their rivals even after 40 years.

When asked, Bari replied that any commission on such incidents should have people with a track record related to human rights and they do not compromise.

“A three-member commission comprising Bushra Gohar, Muneer Abbasi, and myself went to Kohistan after the video scandal. The two members said that the women they had seen were alive and I objected to it and after seven years it was proved that those girls were killed and they [suspects] were punished. So it is not just necessary to have women in the commission,” she said.

Bari was of the view that the second girl and boys were not safe.

In response to a query, she said that the picture which went viral was “doctored” and sent through a fake account. According to Bari, the people in Kohistan have personal differences and stressed that the Federal Investigation Agency should be involved in it to establish and ascertain facts.

With input from Reuters

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa



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