Why are some cases given more importance over others in this country? Some may say the answer lies in which case gets more media attention — but that’s not always true. The case of the Sialkot brothers’ lynching of last year captured the attention of the media as much if not more than the Sarfaraz Shah murder — both were caught on camera and both caused much outrage. Yet in the case of Shah, the verdict is out in a little over two months, and it is of course welcome, but why are the perpetrators of the Sialkot case still unpunished, even over a year after the gory incident?
Unfortunately, the case is now even more inconclusive than before, as two of the men accused of the lynching were granted bail earlier this month, on the basis that they were not nominated in the FIR and the police had failed to establish the allegation against them. Perhaps they are innocent, but then who is guilty for what clearly amounted to premeditated murder of two boys? Is it really impossible to carefully watch the video and identify the perpetrators or to get a hold of the policemen who cheered on the mob and hold them accountable? Last year, the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the case and a senior police officer was suspended. Is that all the justice the boys’ family will get? If the boys were thieves, as one report had claimed, this evidence too should be brought before the court. Given that the police were widely blamed for inaction in the massive public outcry that followed this atrocity, this may well be a case of evidence-tampering. It is when perpetrators of such crimes go unpunished that people feel neglected by the state and vulnerable since the law has failed to protect them. This case needs to be resolved by the courts or else, ironically, there will be a greater impetus among the general public to take the law into their own hands. And we all know, as in the case of these two boys from Sialkot, what the consequences of that can be. The brothers’ uncle, Khawaja Muhammad Amjad, summed it up pretty well, when he said, amongst pleas for justice, that the incident is not just one family’s issue, it concerns the entire society”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.
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