A woman who was allegedly stoned to death on the orders of a panchayat last week was actually strangled by her own husband, the police said on Saturday.
Preliminary investigations carried out by the law enforcement personnel have shown that news reports on the 35-year-old Mariyam Bibi’s murder were inaccurate.
About a week ago, the mother of five got involved in a scuffle with local land owners Arsalan and Mehboob when she went to a field to cut some grass for her livestock.
It was earlier reported that Mehboob’s aides went to the woman’s house to ‘teach her a lesson’ where she was stoned to death while her husband, Sarfaraz, was kidnapped. Now, not only is the cause of Mariyam’s death said to be different, Sarfaraz’s confession to the police of killing his own wife has complicated proceedings further.
A resident of the area and a witness in the case, Rashid told The Express Tribune the couple had a series of fights after Sarfaraz tried to force her to reach an amicable settlement with the land owners.
Shortly afterwards, Mariyam’s body was found in a nearby field while Sarfaraz was reported missing. Following this, Sarfaraz’s father Siddiq registered an FIR at the Kacha Khu police station against the feudal lords for kidnapping and killing his son. Three of the accused were arrested and offered to cooperate.
The police managed to track down Sarfaraz after residents of the area initially identified him as a thief. Sarfaraz told the police that he had strangled his wife with a piece of cloth and then smashed bricks on her limp body to ensure she didn’t survive. When presented before the area’s magistrate Rehman Elahi, Sarfaraz said the land owners were innocent and had nothing to do with Mariyam’s murder.
SHO Chaudhry Shamshad also said the post-mortem report ruled out torture and the real cause of her death was suffocation.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the incident after a local TV channel first broke the news. District Police Officer Waqar Abbasi, however, said no panchayat was held and no stoning verdict was passed.
Sarfaraz will appear before the Supreme Court on July 23.
Following media reports, Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif arrived in Khanewal on Saturday to offer condolences and hand over a cheque of Rs500,000 to the deceased’s family.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.