Kohistan killings: Govt draws blanks, witnesses say women slaughtered

Published: June 5, 2012

Officials unable to meet women; witnesses say the ‘condemned’ women’s throats were slit. DESIGN: S. JAMAL

KOHISTAN: 

There is a massive cover up under way of a brutal slaughter in Kohistan, if key witnesses are to believed – and the provincial government and its security apparatus is abetting the effort to conceal the facts.

While the provincial government continues to deny the incident, key witnesses insist that not only were five women murdered by relatives on the premise of honour, their throats had been slit – contrary to reports that they had been shot.

The victims – four women caught on video singing and dancing at a mixed gathering and one ‘accomplice’ – were allegedly shot dead over the weekend and secretly buried in Seertaiy village on the orders of a local jirga for defying strict tribal customs. According to the story, which first appeared in The Express Tribune, the footage of the women was filmed and made public by two brothers, Bin Yasir and Gul Nazar. When the video caught the eye of the village elders, the women and those who had made the video were condemned to death.

Later, reports emerged that the five women had been shot dead. The provincial government, however, denied the allegations, insisting that the women were safe, and directed the divisional administration to investigate the matter to further prove their claim.

Women not produced

In this regard, Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai, DIG Dr Naeem Khan, DCO Kohistan Syed Aqil Badshah, DPO Abdul Majeed Afridi and Maulvi Javed, the alleged head of the controversial jirga, visited the Seertaiy village on Monday.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Omar Khan, the brother of two of the victims, told the officials that the women were alive but declined to present them in person. The officials, therefore, returned empty-handed as villagers insisted that exposing their women to outsiders was against tribal tradition.

On their return to Pattan tehsil, the commissioner told the media that the women were safe and secure, but could not be presented either before the court or the visiting team.

Witnesses’ statements

On the other hand, in a recorded interview, Muhammad Afzal, the brother of the two condemned men, along with two other villagers, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of their lives, reiterated that the four filmed women and a teenage girl, who the jirga ruled was an accomplice, were slaughtered on May 31.

The men alleged that the women were not shot, but were in fact slaughtered as slitting of throats was ‘easier’ and would not leave behind any evidence.

The two men said they had very strong reasons to believe that the women, namely Sereen Jan, Begum, Bazgha, Amina and Bazgha’s sister Shaheen, were murdered on the jirga’s order, while the life of Afzal and his brothers was at risk. They said that the jirga members include Maulna Mustafa, Omar Khan, Raj Mir, Jehangir, Khush Mir and Parvez of the Azad Khel.

They suggested that the murder could be proven if a judicial inquiry was conducted by women judges with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority.

The men said that all the victims had Watan and Nadra cards.  They added that if all of them, including the brothers, were provided security they would help identify the women and would also try to move the Supreme Court.

Afzal and the two men also accused the local police for aiding the accused, saying that, after learning of the jirga’s verdict, they could have taken measures for saving the victims’ lives.

Backlash

Meanwhile, local clerics announced to stage a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court on June 6, to condemn media reports on the incident as well as the administration for “violating” tribal code of ethics and maligning their women. According to reports, the demonstration will be led by former MPA Maulana Dildar.

The Kohistan DIG, Commissioner, DPO and DCO were not available for comments.

 

Published In The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Random
    Jun 5, 2012 - 8:48AM

    This is not only sad, but disgusting to sickening levels and the fact that the government does not even give two hoofs about whats happening is very depressing.

    All the clerics who are protesting the media interference should be considered party to murder and should be tried in ATC. Their punishments should set a deterrence for any animal who thinks such conduct can be condoned under the guise of “tradition”

    Recommend

  • Mahakaalchakra
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:09AM

    How to solve this problem? Are human being so heartless in that part of the planet? My heart cries for these innocent human beings. Recommend

  • Yaida M
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:25AM

    Pakistan stopped evolving 1000 years ago. Bloodshed is just a mundane, everyday occurrence. Only the reasons change.

    Recommend

  • Polpot
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:31AM

    nothing left to say
    +++++++++++++++++

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  • syed Imran
    Jun 5, 2012 - 9:44AM

    This country has no rule of law. Barbaric acts are on display in each nook and corner and the so called democratic government is busy in its favourite hobby “Corruption”.

    We want a strong government to crub all this mayhem, may be its Martial law.

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  • shahid
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:02AM

    backward country and the people there want to stay in that zone

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  • Mahakaalchakra
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:16AM

    Who to believe in the land of pure?

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  • Kashif
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:25AM

    fake Story, not confirmed news

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  • Animal Farm - Desi
    Jun 5, 2012 - 10:59AM

    Even if this is not true, honour killings happen on regular basis – showing us that we still live in medieval times and are proud of it.

    In the name of honour, religion, language, ethnicity, simply anything which is different than our own ‘belief system’, we kill; and if we cannot kill we hate others who are different than us. All are the same; those who kill, those who hate, and those who are indifferent… simply murders.

    Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:06AM

    The story will be brushed under the carpet. The SC and the Government will back down. Nothing will change the oppression and cruelty against women under these jirgas. One can only pray that the jirga and its supporters will burn in Hell for a very long time.

    Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:09AM

    Until there is a well run witness protection system which allows witnesses, investigating officers, prosecutors and judges to do their job without fear of reprisals injustice will continue.

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  • ASQ
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:12AM

    Tribal customs followers are barbaric in true sense so nothing to be alarmed about.

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  • Kala Khan
    Jun 5, 2012 - 12:04PM

    Why were they dancing and clapping? didn’t they know that its a sin? they should have taken care of their tribal values… now whatever happened is their own mistake.. every land has its own rules.. don’t look at everything from your country’s law’s perspective…Recommend

  • faraz
    Jun 5, 2012 - 12:09PM

    Whether women have been killed or not is a separate matter. The fact that Jirga delivered death sentence speaks volume of the mindset of these people. It shows they have been killing women over such trivial issues for centuries

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  • Mujtaba
    Jun 5, 2012 - 5:37PM

    Where’s jamaat-e-islami now ?

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  • Mahakaalchakra
    Jun 5, 2012 - 11:49PM

    Watch “Off the record with Kashif” dated June 5, 2012 on this topic and make up your mind after hearing those who claim that all 5 females have been killed and those who claim that all are alive.

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  • Sarfraz Khan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 1:12AM

    If the women and ‘accomplice’ have indeed been killed, the courts need to order a public execution of the jirga members. There needs to be a show of force for the implementation of penal law.

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  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jun 6, 2012 - 6:32PM

    @Kala Khan, and the rule of the United States is that all enemies of the country must be eliminated, no matter where they are. Why do you cry then that your sovereignty has been “violated”?

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  • Kkrish Arora
    Jun 7, 2012 - 9:56AM

    Pakistan zealous sympathizers going to counter this
    as just a Media creations, to defame Pakistan………

    Recommend

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