KARACHI: The bodies of a couple who married of their free will last week and were brutally killed for ‘honour’ in Karachi after a Jirga sentenced them to death were exhumed on Monday on the orders of a judicial magistrate. Nine suspects have so far been arrested in the case and the bodies of the couple have been exhumed for a post-mortem examination.
This is the second such incident to have occurred in Karachi in the past few months. In September, a teenage couple who tried to elope was electrocuted to death by family members carrying out orders given by an influential tribal council. The teenagers were accused of having brought dishonour to their community by the Pashtun council of elders or Jirga.
This time, the area, couple and families were different but the nature and motive of the incident remained the same.
The incident took place in the Mominabad area of Orangi Town, which falls in Karachi’s District West. Twenty-four-year-old A* and 21-year-old H fell in love but, due to their families’ opposition, decided to elope.
The couple married in secret around a week ago and moved in together in a rented house in the Nawab Colony area of Mominabad.
“They were successful in getting married and living in hiding but the situation took a turn for the worse when A visited his parent’s house around five days ago,” explained Muhammad Qasim, SHO of the Mominabad police station and the officer who investigated the case. “A’s brother followed him home, found their hideout and informed the other family members,” he said.
The couple were originally from Kohistan and were cousins who resided in the same locality. A was already married to his cousin and had two children with her. H was engaged to another cousin and her fiancé is suspected to have been involved in the murder.
Later, their family members, particularly the girl’s father, called a Jirga and narrated the entire story to the Jirga members, who mainly comprised their relatives. “He narrated that his daughter has dishonoured him and their death is the only option,” explained the arrested family members. “The other Jirga members assured him of their support.”
The family then reached the victims’ house and killed them. The couple were then secretly buried at a graveyard in the Ittehad Town neighbourhood of Baldia Town in District West.
“They [the couple] were killed on Wednesday night,” admitted the arrested relatives. “They were stabbed to death with knives and daggers.”
After killing them, some of the relatives went to the graveyard at night and dug graves and later, the next night, buried the couples’ bodies wrapped in gunny bags.
The police came to know about the incident after the couple’s landlord, Khayal Zada, approached the police about their sudden disappearance. “Their sudden disappearance made me doubtful. Also, the blood in the house raised more suspicions and compelled me to inform the police,” he said.
The police then started investigations and apprehended two of their relatives – Ziaul Haq and Ghulam Rasool. “Initially they denied everything but, after being treated to our method of dealing with criminals, they confessed,” said SHO Qasim. “We then made more arrests and found the victims’ graves,” he explained.
The officer said that so far the police have arrested nine suspects, including the father and an uncle of A, while the other suspects, including the girl’s father and brothers, have yet to be arrested. He said the police are still conducting raids to trace the suspects.
On Monday afternoon, the couple’s bodies were exhumed and shifted to a hospital where doctors conducted the post-mortem examination in the presence of a judicial magistrate.
The doctors have taken their samples and sent them to the laboratory for the chemical examination report to ascertain the actual cause of the deaths.
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and sought a report from the Sindh Inspector-General of Police, Allah Dino Khawaja, on the progress in the case. Shah also directed the police chief to arrest the culprits immediately.
“How are people being killed in the name of honour in Karachi?” the CM questioned, adding that this is a metropolitan city, not a tribal area where Jirgas are held. “I will not allow such kind of barbarianism here,” he warned, directing the IG to initiate a crackdown against crimes of this nature and bring perpetrators to the book.
He also directed IG Khawaja to take action against police officers who failed to perform their duties, thereby allowing such a heinous crime to be committed.
IG Khawaja summoned a detailed inquiry report of the incident from the District West SSP.