Shotgun wedding: Police detains newlyweds for torching police van

Villagers contest accusations, say it was bullets from police’s guns that set van ablaze


Muhammad Sadaqat August 01, 2016
An eyewitness said that when police resorted to firing, panic was created and five children and some women fell unconscious out of fear. PHOTO: PPI

HARIPUR: The police detained a newlywed couple shortly after their marriage on charges of torching a police van in a remote village of Bareela union council of Haripur. Sumaira, daughter of Shafi from Piple Maira village, was wed to Kala, son of Salim of Choee village.

Their union took place on the evening of July 29.

According to the police, their team, headed by ASI Nawaz Khan, was attacked by villagers and a van was also set ablaze.

The police named 19 villagers, including Shafi, father of the bride Sumaira, her husband Kala, her uncles and cousins and five women in an FIR registered at Khanpur police station. A police officer confirmed they picked up Kala at dawn, while his bride, Sumaira, was taken in for questioning during the day time on Saturday.

Khanpur police claimed there was a cross complaint from both Zeeshan, son of Raja Mehboob, and Bilal, son of Abdul Latif from Piple Maira village, against each other. The force went to arrest both men under Section 107/151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The incident broke out after constable Shahbaz raided Shafi’s house with the intention of arresting Bilal who was said to be part of the wedding. The policemen asked about Bilal, but his uncle denied his presence at the wedding and this resulted in an exchange of harsh words. Around 19 villagers started beating the two policemen and allegedly held them hostage.

The head constable called the police post in charge ASI Nawaz Khan for help. He reached Shafi’s home with a police contingent where the villagers, including five to six women, thrashed them and even started aerial firing. The angry mob also torched the mobile van, according to police sources.

Meanwhile, people of the area contested the police’s account, adding Shafi’s daughter’s wedding was under way and over 150 people, both from Piple Maira and Choee villages, were in attendance. They added head constable Shahbaz and one of his subordinates reached the spot and gave Shafi the choice of either producing his nephew Bilal or accompanying them to the police station. Shafi resisted the policemen’s attempts to arrest him and entered the bride’s room, requesting he officials to allow him to complete his daughter’s rukhsati.

“The ASI and his subordinates resorted to firing and bullets which hit the police van and caused the fire,” Haripur district council member Abdul Ghani said. He added none of the villagers were involved in the alleged act of arson.

An eyewitness said that when police resorted to firing, panic was created and five children and some women fell unconscious out of fear. This prompted a severe reaction from the villagers and their guests who attacked the police party with sticks and threw rocks at them.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2016.

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