A newly married couple was murdered after a woman changed her faith to marry the man of her choice.
On Saturday, Chak No60 GB resident Lubna, who recently embraced Islam and married Akhtar Ali was shot and killed by her brother Kashif. “They got married a few days ago after they had run away together. I helped them escape because no one would have accepted the marriage here,” said Akhtar’s neighbour Umer Lali. Lali told police officials that he had helped the couple leave the village and they fled to Bahawalpur.
Neighbours of the couple said that they had been planning to elope for over a month but feared their parents’ reactions. “He belonged to a Muslim family and she was a Christian. They knew their families would never approve the match,” said Lubna’s neighbour Salma. “I told her not to return to the village but they thought their parents wanted to reconcile,” she said.
According to police officials, the case was brought before them by locals in the village on Saturday evening. “We were told that the girl’s brother had shot them both in a public square. Both families were apparently present on the occasion,” said Civil Lines SP Rana Hashim.
“A police team questioned over twenty people in the village and all of them were scared to comment on the situation. They said that it was a matter of religion and they did not want to get involved,” he said.
Both Lubna and Akhtar Ali belong to Chak No60GB village and had been neighbours for over seven year. “She eventually decided to convert so she could marry Akhtar Ali and they had a court marriage in Bahawalpur with one of her distant relatives acting as a witness,” Salma told police officials.
Locals said that both families had conspired together in inviting their children back to the village.
“There was a lot of talk of them both getting the couple back here and then dealing with them as they saw fit,” Hashim said, adding that the girl’s brother Kashif, had called his sister and told her that the family was willing to forgive them.
“They most likely told the couple they were willing to reconcile and that they wanted to see them. They returned to the village on Saturday,” Salma said.
“We knew what was happening because they told us they would perform a proper marriage ceremony and said they would celebrate the union. Later someone told us that everyone in the village had been threatened to disassociate themselves with the couple,” Salma said.
Police officials said that they suspected both families to have been involved in the matter because they refused to file a complaint. “The groom’s parents did not file any complaint with us. It was a villager who witnessed the incident,” Hashim said.
As soon as couple reached the village, Kashif opened fire and killed both Lubna and Ali on the spot. Kashif escaped the scene and police officials have sent the bodies of the couple to the Allied Hospital for an autopsy.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2011.