By: Zahid Gishkori
ISLAMABAD: There may be nothing honourable about cold-blooded murder but in some tribal pockets of southern Punjab, honour trumps life, unabashedly. A 16-year-old girl, *Sana, was allegedly beheaded by her uncle for eloping with a boy. Her body was then purportedly dumped into a nearby canal.
“I never thought my brother will kill my daughter and throw her body into the Shujabad canal,” said Mohammad Khan, Sana’s father, while speaking to The Express Tribune on phone from Kabirwala tehsil of Khanewal district. The area is a stronghold of State Minister for Housing and Works Raza Hayat Hiraj.
Sana elopes, returns
Sana, from the Naich family, eloped with 17-year-old *Ali Jutta, from a purportedly ‘low caste’ Jutta family, said SHO Nawan Shehr Police Noor Baloch while speaking to The Express Tribune. To protect themselves, the couple went to Karachi but a ‘panchayt’ decided to bring the girl back to her village, Chah Arreywala. She was handed over to her parents on the condition of her life security, family sources said.
Khan lodged a complaint with Nawan Sher Police, stating that Ali kidnapped his daughter on 16 of Ramadan and escaped to Karachi. “I brought my daughter back home on September 17, after a ‘panchayt’ order, and lodged her at the residence of my brother, Abbas Naich, who assured her security,” Khan stated in an FIR registered at the police station.
Slaughtered by uncle
“Two weeks later, I went to my brother’s home to bring my daughter back but she was not there. My brother expressed lack of knowledge about Sana, saying she went missing days ago,” the FIR adds. Khan alleges, in the FIR, that “Abbas Naich, Ghafoor Naich, and one unknown person killed my daughter and dumped her dead body.”
The police chief, Baloch, said they’ve recovered some evidence.
“We have recovered an axe, as well as the motorcycle the accused used for throwing Sana’s body, packed in a sack,” Baloch told The Express Tribune. Sana’s body, however, has yet to be found, despite the passage of three weeks.
“We will ensure justice in this case. We have arrested the accused,” said District Police Officer Rai Ijaz Kharal.
Admission of murder
According to a non-governmental organisation, the accused have admitted to the murder.
“The accused Ghaffar Naich and Abbas Naich said they slaughtered Sana after getting objectionable pictures of her with an outsider,” said the findings of Minority Rights Commission Pakistan (MRCP).
“We have slaughtered our niece and threw her body in Shujabad canal a few days back,” MRCP’s finding quoted the accused as saying.
Victims on the run
Ali, and his family, meanwhile, are nowhere to be found.
“We fear that Ali might be killed by some family member of Sana,” said a senior police officer of Nawan Shehr Police Station.
SHO Baloch confirmed: “We are clueless about Ali and his family who might have been shifted to an undisclosed place.” Sana’s father has also been warned to leave the area with his family or face dire consequences. “My relatives asked me to leave my native town if I do not withdraw the FIR against my brother,” Khan said.
“Sana’s murder in the name of honour is a stark example of questionable social practices and compliant behavior of the law enforcement machinery in south Punjab,” said Nabila Feroz Bhatti, Program Manager MRCP.
“It is time the whole society is sensitised to end this brutality,” she added.
The issue is exacerbated by the feudal culture in the area where local landlords, particularly the Hiraj family, has considerable influence over the police, said an investigation officer. Families involved in honour killing usually produce a complainant and an accused, and the matter is settled in a month or two and the complaint is withdrawn, the officer said.
The police fail to investigate the murder and the practice continues, he added.