Police failed to arrest any of the two dozen people who murdered a 25-year-old woman on Tuesday in a manner like stoning to death for marrying without her family’s consent. The girl’s father had surrendered to the police after killing his daughter but all the other members of her family had fled after committing the crime.
Civil Lines Investigation Superintendent (SP) Mufakir Adeel told The Express Tribune that Muhammad Azeem, the father of the murdered woman Farzana Parveen, had told police about the location of other attackers, including his two sons. “The teams raided some houses in Nankana Sahib, Syedawala and Jaranwala but did not find the accused.”
Parveen was waiting for the Lahore High Court (LHC) to open when around two dozen men, including her father and two brothers, attacked her with batons and bricks.
Azeem told police he had no regrets for killing her daughter for ‘honour’.
A police officer, privy to the investigation, said Parveen’s husband, Rai Muhammad Iqbal, was not present at the court and that she had come alone to record her statement. He said Iqbal had later come from Nankana Sahib to file an FIR against the attackers.
According to doctors, Parveen was hit in the head with bricks thrice, killing her instantly.
Civil Lines (Operations) SP Umar Riaz Cheema told The Express Tribune that Iqbal was previously married to another woman and had five children. He said Iqbal’s first wife had passed away a couple of years ago and his in-laws had filed a murder case against him. Iqbal later fled and was given refuge in Jaranwala by Azeem, Parveen’s father.
Azeem told police Iqbal ran away with Parveen who was engaged to another man.
SP Cheema had earlier told the media in front of the LHC that Parveen had been escorted by an investigation officer and three other policemen from Faisalabad, and that the Lahore police were looking for the four policemen.
Asked why no legal action had been initiated against the policemen, the SP changed his statement, saying the policemen were actually from Sialkot and were there for another case.
Human rights activists and politicians condemned Parveen’s murder. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Zohra Yusuf said the commission was appalled by the manner in which Parveen had been killed a few yards from the LHC. “Such brazen actions have been encouraged by the authorities’ failure to fulfil their duty to protect citizens’ lives. The sheer number of women falling victim to the so-called honour killings is enough to dispel all illusions about any interest in saving their lives,” Yusuf said in a statement.
“The government should consider starting a public awareness campaign to combat the feudal mentality behind the crime and ensure that the killers get no premium for invoking misplaced notions of honour.”
Marvi Sirmed, a rights activist, said the legal provision regarding the family of the victim pardoning the killer should not apply to the so-called “honour killing” cases. “A woman was stoned to death in broad daylight in presence of dozens of onlookers. Does this happen in a civilised society?”
Human rights activist Aliya Khan said, “Islam gives women the freedom to choose who they want to marry.”
Azma Zahid Bokhari, convener of the Punjab Women Parliamentary Caucus, called Parveen’s killing “very tragic”. “Islam and the Constitution give women the right to marry according to their choice.”
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Nausheen Hamid criticised the government. “The law of the jungle seems to prevail in the Punjab. The killing in front of the province’s most prestigious institution indicates the failure of the government and the police.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2014.
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