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Kohistan video scandal: Fact-finding mission departs for girls’ village

ABBOTTABAD: On the orders of the Supreme Court, a fact-finding mission would leave for Bando Gaddar village in Palas Tehsil today (Saturday) to determine whether or not the five girls at the centre of the Kohistan video scandal are alive.

The case made headlines four years ago when a shaky video of the girls singing as two men danced at a wedding ceremony in Kohistan district emerged alongside reports that they were subsequently killed on the order of a jirga [tribal court].

Then-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the alleged honour killings on June 4, 2012, but disposed of the case on the 20th of the same month after a delegation comprising rights activists Farzana Bari and Fauzia Saeed, Civil Judge Munira Abbasi, and MNA Bushra Gohar visited the village in Kohistan and found no evidence of the murder.

Later, on November 10, 2016, a two-member bench of the SC, headed by Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan, ordered a district and session court judge in Kohistan to visit the village and verify whether or not the five girls were alive.

Kohistan District and Sessions Judge Shoaib Khan, accompanied by woman DSP Kiran Naushad, DPO Kohistan Abdul Aziz Afridi will leave for Bando Gaddar village today to verify the claims of Afzal Kohistani, the petitioner who had been claiming since 2012 that the five girls were slaughtered on the orders of a Jirga and buried without funeral prayers. The jirga had deemed clapping and singing in the presence of men to be a capital crime.

“We are leaving for Bando Gaddar, the native village of the five girls, to collect evidence,” said Kohistan DPO Afridi while talking to The Express Tribune in Abbottabad on Friday. He added that all security arrangements for the trip have been completed while the families of girls have also been informed about the visit.

To a question about photographing women in a case where women were allegedly murdered for being photographed, DPO Afridi admitted that gathering pictorial evidences of women in the conservative tribal culture would be difficult. However, he was optimistic that the fact -finding team would successfully implement the court’s order.

In October, the apex court had set a two-week deadline for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government and Kohistan’s district police officer to complete an inquiry into the alleged killings.

The case was reopened in August this year when Kohistani – on whose application the former chief justice took suo motu notice – filed a fresh plea informing the court he had new evidence of the murders of the girls and three of his brothers who were seen in the video.

The Express News

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