LAHORE: The family of a pregnant woman who was bludgeoned to death in broad daylight this week accused her husband of killing her, in stark contrast to his version of a story that has shocked people around the world.
Police and witnesses said Farzana Iqbal, 25, was murdered by assailants including her own father outside a court building on Tuesday because she had married a man of her own choosing, Iqbal, instead of a cousin they had selected for her.
But on Saturday, Farzana’s elder sister said it was Iqbal who had killed her. “ Iqbal and his accomplices killed Farzana, and her father and the rest of her family were wrongly accused of murder,” Khalida Bibi told reporters in Lahore. “I was present at the scene and when she came out of the lawyer’s chamber and as soon as she saw us standing on the other side of the road, she rushed towards us. Iqbal and his accomplices chased her and hit her with bricks.” Khalida Bibi said she had spent 13 days with Farzana in a women’s shelter last month where she said she was hiding from Iqbal.
“She told me that Iqbal had kidnapped her and forced her into marriage,” she said. “She feared that Iqbal might kill her like his previous wife, Ayesha.” The meanwhile police denied negligence over their failure to stop the bludgeoning to death of the woman outside the courthouse, describing it as a simple murder case despite a chorus of global condemnation.
Senior officer Zulfiqar Hameed defended his men’s actions, saying one had snatched a gun from an attacker, but claimed the mob was too large for police to stop the killing. He also blamed foreign media for their ‘inaccurate’ description of events.
“It is a routine murder case like other murder cases and has to be seen in the context of Pakistani society,” Hameed told AFP.
“The foreign media is wrongly describing it as stoning without seeing the background of the two families, which is not good and which resulted in this incident,” he added.
Hameed also claimed Parveen’s husband Iqbal had absconded from justice for four years after murdering his wife, and alleged that Parveen eloped with him despite already being married.
In a further complication to the case, defence lawyer Mansoor Khan Afridi on Saturday claimed Iqbal had abducted Parveen two years ago, when she was already married to her cousin Mazhar Iqbal. “ Iqbal developed illicit relations with Farzana and used to visit her when her husband Mazhar Iqbal was not at home,” Afridi said. “Later Iqbal kidnapped her.” The lawyer claimed Iqbal then obtained another marriage certificate, a crime if Parveen was already married to another man, he said.
Afridi said that cases of abduction and unlawful marriage had already been registered with police. A court extended the custody of Parveen’s father on Saturday, giving police seven more days to investigate the crime, senior police official Omer Riaz Cheema told AFP.