The police on Wednesday exhumed bodies of the teenage couple who were secretly buried after being killed by electrocution on the orders of a jirga in Karachi last month.
The bodies were exhumed from unmarked graves at the Maula Madad graveyard in Sherpao Colony in the presence of a judicial magistrate. A team of medico-legal officers conducted an examination and extracted samples for DNA and chemical tests to confirm their identities and cause of death.
Station Investigation Officer of Shah Lateef police station, Hakim Ali Soomro, told The News that the samples had been collected and sent for testing to Islamabad.
The team of MLOs comprising Dr Saima Saeed, Dr Fateh Mirza and Dr Qarar Abbas performed autopsy on 17-year-old Ghani Rehman and 15-year-old Bakht Taj in the presence of the judicial magistrate for District East. SIO Soomro stated that as per the preliminary report of the examiners, their bodies bore torture marks on the head, shoulders and legs.
However, the officer added, the probe would only proceed further once the DNA and chemical examination reports are received, which often takes around one month.
Residents of Ali Brohi Goth in Ibrahim Hyderi, the teenage couple was accused of violating the Pashtun ‘code of honour’ by allegedly attempting to elope and both were killed with electric shocks in mid-August.
Both the families belong to the Safi sub-clan of the Mohmand tribe and the murders were executed by family members on the orders of a jirga of their tribe’s elders.
According to SIO Soomro, the teenagers wanted to contract a marriage and eloped after their parents opposed the idea. He claimed the couple had run away and was living together in Hyderabad but their parents tracked them down and duped them into coming back home with false promises of marrying them off properly.
The SIO said the two were killed by their families after the jirga ordered exemplary punishment for eloping. However, as per information garnered by The News from local residents and police sources, the couple had not eloped and the wheels of tribal ‘justice’ were set in motion on August 14 when Taj disappeared from her house with cash and jewellery.
While she stayed at a house in the nearby area of Gulshan-e-Buner, Rehman remained at his own home so as to not arouse suspicion.
However, Taj’s parents scoured their daughter’s room and found a mobile SIM card registered in Rehman’s name. They then confronted Rehman and managed to track Taj down and brought her home on the same day.
Sources who followed the developments told The News that after Taj was brought home an agreement was reached between the two families and the couple was to be properly married off. Along with promising to give two of his daughters for marriage, Rehman’s father, Afzal, had offered to bear all the expenses of Taj and Rehman’s wedding and also give cattle as compensation.
To conclude the matter, over a dozen elders of the Mohmand tribe residing in Ali Brohi Goth, Sherpao Colony and Muslimabad gathered on August 15.
It was there that a staunchly conservative elder, Sartaj Khan alias Shagalai, raised objections to the agreement. In his rigid view, the jirga had to punish the teenagers to discourage such acts in the future and their families had to be the ones to kill their children, all to save their and the tribe’s ‘honour’.
Arrests made so far
Sharing details of the investigation, SIO Soomro said the police conducted raids at the victims’ houses between August 16 and August 17, and arrested Afzal as well as his brother Meer Afzal, Hikmat and another of Bakht’s uncle, Zar Khattab.
He said that the suspects had confessed to killing the teenagers for attempting to elope. It was after they disclosed the location of the couple’s graves that the police exhumed their bodies from the Maula Madad cemetery in Sherpao Colony.
Although Sartaj Khan alias Shagalai remains at large, the SIO claimed that his location had been traced and a team of the Shah Latif police had been sent to Rawalpindi to arrest him.