SIALKOT: The Sarfraz Shah verdict is a glimmer of hope for the family of two brothers who were brutally lynched to death by a mob in Sialkot on August 15 last year.
“The incident is not just one family’s issue, it concerns the entire society and thus justice should be dispensed at the earliest as was done by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi,” Khwaja Muhammad Amjad, uncle of the deceased brothers Mughees and Muneeb, told reporters at the Sialkot Press Club. The case is being heard by an anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala.
At the press conference, held to mark the first anniversary of the incident, Amjad said that it was unfortunate that while justice was yet to be served, local politicians had politicised the case for personal gains. “[PML-N’s MNA from Sialkot] Khwaja Asif is supporting us while Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan is siding with the accused,” he said.
Footage of the incident, filmed using a mobile phone video camera, was aired on television channels and went viral on social networking websites, sparking public fury. The video showed policemen standing on the sidelines as a cheering mob mercilessly lynched Mughees, 19, and Muneeb, 16, with iron rods at Doburji Chowk in Sialkot. Members of the mob accused the brothers of being robbers but investigations into the case proved otherwise.
So extreme was the outrage over the incident that the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of it and a senior police officer was suspended for having allowed such an incident to take place within his jurisdiction.
A year later, the bereaved family is hosting relatives and well-wishers at a Quran Khwani at their house in Hajipura, Sialkot. But grieved father Sajjad Butt continues to be haunted by the vicious manner in which his sons were killed and the slow dispensation of justice in the case.
“I have spent a year patiently and now, I have put our petition before the court of Allah Almighty. I have firm belief in His justice,” said the boys’ mother Fouzia Sajjad. “My sons used to mark Independence Day with much fervour. This year, nobody decorated our house.”
“The judiciary must be more attentive to cases such as these or else the people’s faith in the system could shatter,” says Dr Mehdi Hasan, member of the executive council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). PPI (With additional reporting by Ali Usman in Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.