BAHALWALPUR / SUKKUR: Saleema’s* body lay wrapped in white muslin, ready to be buried as a crowd gathered for her funeral prayers. Suddenly, a group of policemen reached the spot and arrested Saleema’s three brothers while mourners looked on in shock.
The family was feigning natural death of a girl who had been killed in the name of honour, District Police Officer Muhammad Imran told The Express Tribune. The police officer had a ghastly tale of betrayal to tell: Saleema, a resident of Bahawalpur, had eloped to marry her love-interest Hafeez*, who belonged to the same city. Learning of her escapade, Saleema’s family became fearful of its ‘reputation’. Family members persuaded her to return home, promising that she would be married to Hafeez in a fully-planned ceremony.
Thus, Saleema returned home on November 3. But far from beginning a new life, she was to see the end of her current one. Furious that their sister’s love interest had tarnished the family’s ‘honour’, Saleema’s three brothers attacked and killed her.
On the other hand, Hafeez has claimed that he was already married to Saleema, and has been asked by the police to produce marriage documents for substantiation.
The officer said that one of the brothers confessed the crime, and consequently an FIR was lodged against all three of them. Saleema’s body was sent to Bahawalpur’s Bahawal Victoria Hospital for autopsy.
It doesn’t just end with Saleema’s story. On Saturday night, a woe-struck elderly woman named Rashida* knocked the doors of Khairpur press club telling another spine chilling tale of honour-killing.
The woman said that her daughter-in-law had been killed for marrying out of free will. Maryam*, hailing from Choondko village in Khairpur district, had tied the knot with her Karachi based son Arshad* without the approval of her family. Following the marriage, the elders of Maryam’s village held a jirga, in which she was declared kari and liable to be killed.
Rashida said that the couple had filed a petition in the court against the jirga and demanded protection. As a result, the court summoned elders from Choondko who said that no jirga had been held, and neither had Maryam been declared kari. Since then, the couple lived peacefully for four years – till a horrifying turn of fate transpired.
Maryam’s brother, Kareem, visited Karachi and informed her that their father was seriously ill. As a result, Maryam, along with her mother-in-law and two-year-old daughter rushed to Choondko. Upon reaching home, Maryam’s brothers Kareem, Nazeer and Manzar started beating the women and shut Maryam’s mother-in-law in a room while they dragged her outside, murmuring that they will kill and bury her. Rashida said that while Maryam was being tortured, she banged down the door of the room in which she had been locked, and hopped on a bus with Maryam’s daughter to flee the village as she feared her own safety.
When contacted about the incident, SHO Sorah police station Jawed Shah talking to The Express Tribune said that informal reports of the incident had reached him, the murder had not been confirmed yet. He added that investigations were being held in this regard.
(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM SARFARAZ MEMON IN SUKKUR)
*names have been changed to protect privacy
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2012.