By: Wajih Ahmad Sheikh
LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court sentenced on Wednesday four men to death for killing a woman for marrying the man of her choice.
The convicts included the woman’s father Mohammad Azeem, brother Zahid Iqbal, former husband Mazhar Abbas and cousin Jahan Khan.
The convicts, along with some other people, had bludgeoned to death three months pregnant Farzana on May 27 this year near the Lahore High Court. The 25-year-old woman was going to the court to submit a statement in favour of her husband Mohammad Iqbal in an abduction case lodged by her family.
The incident was widely reported in the national and foreign media. The prime minister, the chief minister of Punjab and the chief justice of Lahore High Court took notice of the incident and the LHC registrar ensured timely registration of an FIR.
Mozang police registered the FIR against six named and 22 unnamed persons on a complaint of the woman’s husband under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Judge Haroon Latif of the ATC handed down the death sentence to the four accused under Section 7-A of ATA and Sections 302-B and 338-C of the PPC.
Section 338-C was inserted in the FIR when during autopsy doctors found a three-month child dead in the womb of the deceased.
The judge observed that the murder having taken place near the high court sparked fear and outrage among people who come to courts to seek protection against oppression. He said the gruesome murder was aimed at deterring innocent people from approaching courts to get relief.
The murder, the judge remarked, was gruesome and brutal and reminiscent of dark ages.
The court also sentenced Ghulam Ali, another brother of the deceased, to 13 years in jail.
Another accused, Saydan Bibi, was declared a proclaimed offender after police could not arrest her. The judge directed that after her arrest she should be produced before the court for trial.
The prosecution produced 18 witnesses and established that the motive behind the murder was a grudge nurtured by the accused after Farzana married Iqbal against their wishes.
Deputy prosecutor general Rai Asif represented the state in the case.
Police recovered two bricks, which had been used to kill Farzana, and one empty pistol from the crime scene.
Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister on Prosecution Rana Maqbool Ahmad said in a statement that the judgment would enhance people’s confidence in the judicial system. He congratulated prosecutors for getting the accused convicted and punished.