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Kohistan death decree Women alive and protected, elders tell officials

Nisar Ahmad Khan

MANSEHRA: Elders and clerics of Pales village in Kohistan district on Monday denied the alleged killing of five women on a jirga decree over singing and dancing along with men in a marriage function, and told an official fact-finding mission that all the women shown in a mobile phone video were alive and in safe hands.A section of the media had earlier reported the killing of the said women on May 30 amid denial by the Hazara division administration.

Earlier in the day, the mission comprising Hazara commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai, DIG Dr Mohammad Naeem, Kohistan DCO Aqaal Badshah and DPO Abdul Majid Afridi flew to Bechbala Gadar area on directives of Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

“The women, who are reported to have been killed on the decree of a jirga, are alive and as per the accounts of local elders and families of the said women, no one can kill them on the basis of a suspicious video,” DCO Kohistan Aqaal Badshah told reporters here.

Mr Badshah said two brothers of Mohammad Afzal, who had ‘broken’ the news of the women’s killing, were also arrested.

“Besides recording the statements of the family members, ulema (clerics) and elders, we also searched for new graves but found nothing in support of the claim of Mohammad Afzal about the killing of five women to media on Sunday,” he said.

Mr Badshah quoted female members of the said women’s families as appealing to the media not to disgrace them by airing the dancing video on TV channels.

He also quoted a cleric as saying that neither women nor men seen in the video were labeled as perverted and hence, no question of killing them arose.

A source close to the fact-finding mission said elders and clerics made it clear to the mission that they could extend whatever surety was required under the law to confirm that women were alive but they (women) couldn’t be produced in front of ghair mehram (non-relatives) in line with local traditions.

He said police had arrested Gulnazray and Binyasir, who were also seen in the video, from Allai area before shifting them to Kohistan.

Police on Sunday lodged FIR against them under section 509, 505, 292 of Pakistan Penal Code and 18-Motion Picture Ordinance.

Also in the day, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took a suo motu notice of the alleged killing of women and asked the district administration to produce the women on June 6 before him.

Mohammad Afzal and Shahzaday, who had allegedly made the video on mobile phone, and then transferred to others, were still at large and police were raiding at different places in Hazara to apprehend them.

District police officer of Kohistan Abdul Majid Afridi had said once Mohammad Afzal, his brothers and Shahzady were arrested, then the truth about the jirga decree and the killings would be out.