Jirga injustice: Four Kohistani women, accomplice ‘killed’ for defying customs

Published: June 4, 2012
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Administration officials refute claims, insist the women are safe.

Administration officials refute claims, insist the women are safe.

KOHISTAN: Four women of the Azad Khel tribe allegedly paid the ultimate price after being ‘condemned’ to death by a jirga for defying strict tribal customs. Their crime: singing and dancing with men at a wedding ceremony.

Another girl was also reportedly killed for being ‘an accomplice’. The women were shot dead by their families in a remote village of UC Peech Bela, Palas tehsil, independent sources said on Sunday.

However, police and official sources rejected the allegation and insisted that the women were safe in their homes.

Two months ago, footage showing the four women singing Kohistani folk songs and clapping for two women of the Salikhel tribe was made public.

The police had registered an FIR against two brothers, Bin Yasir and Gul Nazar, for allegedly making the film and uploading it on a video sharing site.

The video caused a furore in the community, which felt the video had stained the honour of the tribeswomen. According to sources, elders of the Azad Khel tribe summoned a jirga at the Seertaiy village, which sentenced the four women and the two men to death.

It was reported that both men had fled the area. However, they were arrested by the police in Alai tehsil, Battagram district on Sunday.

According to Yasir and Nazar’s elder brother, Muhammad Afzal, the women were called back from their in-laws and locked in a room.

He added that their family members subjected the women to severe torture – threw hot water on them, beat them, and kept them in isolation for two months.

Afzal also said that the jirga sent over 30 men to kill of his brothers.

However, after the jirga’s ruthless verdict was reported in the media, the men were called back to the village to kill the women first.

‘Shot dead’

At around two in the morning on May 30, the four women along with a teenage girl were taken out of the room, shot dead and buried at some distance from their village, Afzal alleged.

He said that the teenage girl, believed to be a sister of one of the women, was killed after being suspected of being an ‘accomplice’ and keeping the gathering a secret.

“Yes, they killed the condemned women on May 30,” a resident of the Seertaiay village, who belongs to Chootaykhel tribe, said on the condition of anonymity.

He said the family had to implement the jirga’s decision at every cost to uphold the culture of the area.

The Express Tribune was the first to break the news of the jirga’s decision two weeks ago. Two members of the jirga, Maulvi Javed, who runs a seminary in Mansehra and Maulvi Noorul Haq, a former union nazim, were booked under section 107 of the PPC.

Conflicting reports

Meanwhile, Hazara Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai refuted the reports, saying that the women were safe and secure in their homes. A team of investigators had returned from the remote village on Saturday after recording the statement of one of the girl’s mother who confirmed that the women were safe. Umerzai also accused the media of creating hype on a baseless issue.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain also said that the reports were “wrong and baseless”. Nevertheless, he said he has directed the Kohistan DCO to send an investigation team to the area.

However, an unnamed police source neither confirmed nor denied the report, saying that he could not comment on the issue.

Head of the legal section of the National Commission on Status of Women Riffat Bibi told The Express Tribune that if the women were alive the district administration must present them before the court.

She also strongly condemned the jirga system in Kohistan, adding that the NCSW had already moved the apex court for a ban against parallel justice.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Jun 4, 2012 - 10:01AM

    Don’t I feel ashamed of being a Pakistani and a Muslim! :(

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  • INFIDEL
    Jun 4, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Drop the bomb, exterminate them all ~ Kurtz

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  • Karim
    Jun 4, 2012 - 10:44AM

    What confusing reporting by our media. Nobody knows whether they’re alive or not. Didn’t the police outright reject the claim that the video was real? It showed women dancing in another room and men dancing in a separate one. Either way what pathetic people. When the economy’s crashing down and people have nothing better to do, I guess this is what it comes down to. These disputes need to end, people need to embrace peace. And that can only be taught if the Maulvis stop focusing on “Quaaf not Kaaf” and instead spread love, brotherhood and tolerance around.

    Also, ET care to clarify: “Two months ago, footage showing the four women singing Kohistani folk songs and clapping for two women of the Salikhel tribe was made public.” ??

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  • Jun 4, 2012 - 10:52AM

    What a strange phenomenon?
    On one side they have the privelege of elctronic technology, like cells and internet. And on other hand do not allow their woman to simply celebrate family funstions.
    Its a pity.

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  • MAD
    Jun 4, 2012 - 11:01AM

    The police were part of this too. Its time to civilize the tribal areas.

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  • Imran Ahmed
    Jun 4, 2012 - 11:02AM

    This level of oppression and ignorance is unacceptable. Is the answer to punish the ignorant oppressors?

    I fear that unless their barbaric traditions and customs are openly challenged and pulverized with reason this is going to keep happening. Where a provable crime has been committed by the holier then thou stalwarts it must be prosecuted with full diligence, fairly tried in an open court and exemplary punishments handed. Justice must be seen to be done, vengeance is stupid. This is only going to be possible if the State has the will to provide protection for witnesses, investigators, prosecutors and judges.

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  • lastlines
    Jun 4, 2012 - 11:07AM

    at Muz..don’t be ashamed of being a Muslim, these people do not practice Islam, In their twisted way of thinking although they might think they do,

    Those women are probably dead. If the tribe would produce 4 women now to show they are alive..who could prove it is really them and who could prove that the people are not lying out of fear..

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  • Sajjad
    Jun 4, 2012 - 11:23AM

    Yes. Besides as a human being also we feel ashamed of such inhuman acts.

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  • alicia
    Jun 4, 2012 - 12:15PM

    @Karim
    The women went to a wedding which was filmed by two brothers from another tribe. That wedding was separated and the women sang in another room. Those two brothers than made a separate video of themselves dancing and put it in with the video of the women to make it look like they attended a mixed gathering.

    The jirga didn’t care if the video was fake or real just the fact that somebody had seen the women dance was enough for them.

    I just feel really ashamed and disgusted by this news and even worse that some people are actually supporting it.

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  • JSM
    Jun 4, 2012 - 12:22PM

    Thank god the country was partitioned. We do not have such a parallel system of inhumane justice on Indian side.

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  • Jun 4, 2012 - 12:37PM

    @JSM:
    because you have many other inhumane unparalleled systems still being practised in your part of the plot!

    @lastlines:
    Very true. I am only ashamed because this has nothing to do at all with Islamic teachings and they do that in the name of Islam! :(

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  • Jun 4, 2012 - 12:45PM

    I really feel shame to be a Pakistani. Is there any government in that country?Recommend

  • JSM
    Jun 4, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Muz,

    We will take care of our side- as we grow economically, things will get better. Wish the same on the other side.

    Best of luck.

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  • khpalwak
    Jun 10, 2012 - 7:09PM

    The report is bios based on fiction and self rising.No investigation made by the reporter and publishing agency.It is only defaming our country and existing social system.The case shoulbe properly investigae and the rumourer should be punished.

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