A man killed his sister for rejecting a watta satta marriage arrangement with their cousin on Saturday.
According to police officials, Urri Wala sub district Talamba resident Qaswar Abbas wanted to marry his cousin but was told that the only way the marriage would be contracted was if his sister married the girl’s brother.
“Abbas’s uncle said that his sister had to marry her cousin Shujaat in a watta satta exchange. Watta satta marriages are a tradition in this family and Abbas’s parents were also married in a similar exchange,” Qaswar’s neighbour Rehmatullah said.
Qaswar had a 15-year-old sister Rifat, who he was pressuring to marry his cousin. “He kept hounding her to marry Shujaat but she refused. It was the only way he would be allowed to marry Shujaat’s sister Farah. His uncle was adamant that he would only accept the proposal if both children agreed to it,” said Qaswar’s father Akram Abbas. “His daughter refused the match because Shujaat was a drug addict and she did not wish to stay in my brother-in-law’s house,” Rehmatullah said.
On Saturday morning, Abbas locked his sister up in a cow shed and beat her with iron rods. He later hanged her from the ceiling fan and fled the district. “They had been quarrelling for weeks over the issue. She stood her ground and refused the match,” Rehmatullah said.
Talamba Station House Officer (SHO) Ibrar Gujjar lodged an FIR against the Qaswar and said that police were searching for him. “We have questioned several people and they all said that he had been pushing for the match. Apparently he had even tried to pressurize his cousin and told him to forcefully marry his sister,” Gujjar said. “I myself heard him ask his father to force the girl to marry Shujaat. He even said they should sell her but Akram refused,” said a servant at the house.
Police officials have been raiding different areas of the district in search of the accused but have yet to find him.
“We have sent the girl’s body to the DHQ hospital for an autopsy. She was brutally beaten,” Gujjar said. Police officials also took in Qaswar’s father in for questioning. “He told us everything he knew but he doesn’t seem to know where his son might have gone,” he said.
Khanewal District Police Officer (DPO) Waqar Abbasi immediately took notice of the incident and ordered that the accused be arrested as soon as possible. “These incidents need to be dealt with an iron fist.
That is the only way to send the message that such marriages and honour crimes are unacceptable. The father of the girl is still making excuses for his son. He kept saying that watta satta marriages were a ‘tradition’ in their family. Such traditions need to be abolished,” he said.
“This is not my son’s fault. He is an emotional person and my daughter kept refusing to listen to him. I tried to tell her to reconsider the match but she didn’t,” Akram told police.
“I regret what happened because I have lost both my children now but my daughter was too headstrong,” he said. Akram told police “My daughter was disrespectful. She had no rights to turn down a match that my son and I had approved but Qaswar took things too far,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2011.