A Christian girl, who was set on fire by her in-laws, is on her deathbed in Sammundri but police officials still refuse to register a case. Police said they could not file a case until the girl’s husband filed the complaint.
According to hospital officials, Neelam Bibi was set ablaze by her in-laws six days ago and her parents have been trying to file a criminal case with the police for six days. “My daughter was set on fire because she wanted to visit us,” said Neelam Bibi’s mother Frazeen Bibi. Saddar Samundri Police has refused to register a criminal case against the in-laws of the girl, who is currently admitted in the Allied Hospital Burns Unit.
“She is in critical condition and we don’t think she will be able to survive. She has sustained 90 percent third degree burns and the worst damage has been done to her face,” said attending Dr Arshaf Qadir. Neelam Bibi, was married five years ago to Lateef Masih and the couple have two sons. On Monday, the girl demanded that she be allowed to visit her parents and had an altercation with her in-laws. “They treated her abominably. She was beaten and we often heard them screaming at the top of their lungs. She hadn’t seen her family for nearly a year and she began to demand that she be allowed out of the house,” said Neelam’s friend Madiha. “Recently, they caught her trying to purchase a bus ticket because her parents live in a separate tehsil. That was when the fight escalated,” she said.
Neelam claimed that her father-in-law and sister-in-law tortured her in the presence of a number of other family members. “While she was conscious, she told us that they had sprinkled kerosene oil on her and set her on fire. She said that several neighbours rushed to her rescue but they held them back and didn’t allow anyone to help extinguish the fire,” said an Allied Hospital nurse Ayesha Aslam. After locals witnessed the scene, they informed the police and Sammundri District Superintendent Police (DSP) Karimullah rushed to the spot and shifted the girl to the hospital in his official vehicle. “The police took her first statement while she was being driven to the hospital. She told them everything and said that her in-laws were responsible for the accident,” said Frazeen Bibi. “Now they are denying that these people had any involvement in the incident and are trying to protect them,” she added.
Neelam was referred to Allied Hospital Faisalabad from the THQ Hospital Samundri in critical condition. Lady doctor Salma Dil, at the Allied Hospital burn ward, confirmed that she also recorded her statement before the doctors on duty in which she claimed that her in-laws set her on fire. “After that her condition got considerably worse and right now she is in a coma. We don’t think she will survive her injuries,” Salma said.
Samundri police have still not registered a case against the girl’s in-laws and DSP Karimullah said that hadn’t registered the case because they lacked enough evidence.
Majeed Masih, Neelam’s father said that he visited the police station over eight times in five days but the police refused to file a case. Sammundri Station House Officer (SHO) Usman Lashari said that the police had not received any written complaint from the husband of the girl. “When her husband files a complaint we will take action,
he said. “I cannot register the case on the statement of the victim as she is in coma and her previous statement is not fit to be considered,” he said.
“They are siding with my daughter’s in-laws. Ofcourse her husband hasn’t filed a complaint. He will not file a complaint implicating his own mother and sister,” Majeed said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2011.