The Crimson Earth

By Noreen Haider

December 22, 2010, Gujranwala
Shumila, a newly wed bride, murdered by the bridegroom, who staged a dacoity-cum-murder drama to mislead the police after killing his bride over the demand of a car in dowry which the parents of the girl could not afford. Shumaila was offering prayers when Sajid opened fire on her temple and later wounded himself by shooting on his one leg. He later confessed to the killing.
January 16, 2011, Multan
Hina, nine years old, subjected to sexual assault before being murdered in Multan according to the postmortem report. The unfortunate child, left her home to buy some food items from a nearby shop, but she never returned. Her body was later recovered from Basti Khudadad.
January 19, Lahore
Allah Rakhi, forty, killed by her husband on the allegation of illicit relations in Ghaziabad Lahore. Police arrested the accused who confessed his crime and also admitted to killing his 17-year-old daughter Surriya Bibi by strangling her five months ago. Allah Rakhi was hit by hammer repeatedly on her head, which resulted in her instant death. The body of Surriya Bibi was recovered from an empty plot by the police.
January 19, Dera Ghazi Khan
Khursheed twenty one and Nadra twenty three were ambushed by their father and uncles and showered with bullets while returning to their home town of Mozah Marhaata in Pir Adil Village of Dera Ghazi Khan. The two women were allegedly trying to escape a forced marriage. They left their home nearly 18 days ago. The family members were trying to bury their bodies when a SHO, managed to recover the bodies of the victims.
January 20, Khanewal
Asma, eight months pregnant, beaten by iron rods to death by her husband abetted by his family. Asma was tortured in front of her mother, who was held in place by some men, at Kot Abdullah village in Khanewal. The postmortem report confirms torture and death by poison. The police have arrested her husband who has confessed to the killing.
January 20, Vehari
Shaista, seven months pregnant, killed by her husband allegedly over suspicions of having an illicit relationship. She was choked to death by stuffing a piece of cloth in her mouth. Her husband Yousaf and his father, Hafeez, were arrested by the police where they admitted to killing Shazia.
January 21, Multan
Zainab Bibi, wife of a laborer was gang raped after her husband Arshad Muhammad asked a local landlord Ameen to pay his wages. The landlord owed him thirty thousand rupees. On the demand of payment, Arshad was verbally abused and brutally beaten with sticks by the hit men of the landlord. Later, Zainab was abducted by Ameen and his accomplices and was taken to Ameen’s farmhouse where she was gang raped. A few hours later she was thrown near her house badly injured. Local police officials refused to file the FIR against the criminals. The case was registered only after Khanewal district session judge Ijaz Ahmed Butt took notice of the case. Ameen and his accomplice fled the district and are now at large.
22 January, Lahore
Shazia, 26, was brutally beaten by her husband along with his brothers and other members of his family and then thrown from the roof critically injuring her and breaking her legs, arms, jaw and head. Police initially refused to file a case against the culprits. She, the mother of four children, is still hanging between life and death. Her family is constantly receiving death threats from her in-laws in case they pursue the case. The main culprit is still at large.
January 22, Burewala
Najma Bibi is reported missing for days after her in-laws disgraced her in the name of honor in Mochiwala, Bherowala. In line with the decision of the panchayat, the in-laws of Najma Bibi, 24, cut her hair, blackened her face and paraded her in the streets on the allegation of having illicit relations with a man of the same village. Najma and her children were later evicted from the village on the orders of the Panchayat which ruled that an example should be made of her before she was turned out of the village.
January 23, Bahawalpur
Saima, 17, electrocuted to death in Bahawalpur district on the orders of a Panchayat that comprised of her father and three uncles. Her crime was that she had eloped with a man in the neighborhood and married him. According to eye witnesses there were signs of severe torture and burn injuries on her body.

It may seem that these cases are taken out of the plot of some horror movie or are stories from the land of barbarians who have never seen the light of modern day world but in reality these are but a few of the reported cases of violent crimes against women, in the very first month of the new year. Every day women are being killed in excruciatingly painful ways and there is no apparent end to it. All the above cited cases have occurred in the Punjab where the rulers have tall claims of “good governance”

It is preposterous that Panchayat (the informal local councils) are still continuing in Pakistan and handing out verdicts including death sentences against women. These courts have no legal or constitutional authority and they have no business running a parallel system of vigilante justice.

It is the complete failure of the provincial governments, district administrations and the law enforcement agencies that the Panchayats are handing out death sentences to helpless women.

The Chief Minister Punjab, Home Department, IG Police and the Law Minister are directly responsible for the horrendous situation in Punjab regarding violent crimes against women.

The regular occurrence of these cases has exposed the crumbling administrative system in Punjab and the even poorer intelligence system. The Central Intelligence Department is doing a poor job of gathering intelligence about developing situations which precipitate into such violent crimes. The police are lagging behind most of the time, and actually do nothing to prevent crimes against women. Even after the occurrence of such crimes, the inertia continues. The family members of rape victims have to virtually get raped themselves in order to get the police to come out of their slumber and register the case.

But the real cause of alarm is not just the brutal killings, rape and maiming of women by their own family members, but the effortless ease and fearless ways these horrific crimes are now being carried out right under the noses of the district administration, in broad daylight. The killers and abettors have neither any fear of the law nor of any social condemnation. In fact in many cases the killing of the “allegedly tainted women” by the family is taken as a sign of honour and he-man-ship.

Although the response of the police and the law enforcing agencies is pitiable and they have a dismal record in handling the cases of violence against women but how the communities and society reacts towards it is much more significant. The reaction of the neighbors, larger family, religious leaders, prayer leaders, local mystics, influentials and elders, whose words hold importance, all constitute the overall society that matters to an individual and if there is no condemnation there and no adverse reaction then it is, in fact a tacit approval for the act. In this scenario the state and its organs can not work effectively in the prevention or control of the crime.

The shocking rapidity with which these crimes are occurring is a commentary on the overall deteriorating psyche of the regressive society in Pakistan generally and in Punjab particularly as majority of the crimes against women are being reported in Punjab. It is also a reflection on how the weak segments of the community are becoming more and more vulnerable with the traditional social protection networks deteriorating fast and the state being a total failure in providing protection to any of its citizens.

The society which does not show any abhorrence for horrendous crimes against humanity is a morally dead society. We are now living in a country of dead men walking. Oblivious to the blood and gore stories around them and in a state of self imposed trance. If there was any life left in them they would have protested for young Hina, for the seventeen year old Saima, for Najma. They would have protested for someone. But the silence is deafening. There is no one willing to take a stand for any of these women.

As for the ruling elite they are busy playing the fiddle like Nero and enjoying their super luxury lifestyles comparable to any oil rich Shiekh in the Middle East.

I want to ask all the leaders of the religious groups and parties the reason for this strange silence against the brutality of men slaughtering their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers. Why such abhorrence for women? What is preventing them from coming out in public and declaring “Fatwas” against the perpetrators and abettors of the crimes against women in the name of honour? How can a man justify his act by taking refuge in religious decrees against immoralities when he himself is committing murders?

As the sanctions for these crimes are inferred through the morality derived through religion, I beseech the Islamic scholars “The Ulemas” to come out of their inertia and play a positive role to save women from the blood bath going on. I beg them to pass their declarations, “Fatwas” now about men butchering women and clearly state where they stand in the scheme of things. Why can’t the Ulema use the power they have to pressurize the governments and mobilize public to rally the around this issue? Is it not also blasphemous that men are butchering women in a country where the love for the Prophet (SW) is sworn by all? What would the Prophet (SW) think of His faithful being silent spectators in the face of such brutality?

It is the obligation of the religious scholars to come out and declare the right of women with regard to their own marriage. Regarding a woman’s right to marry a person of her choice, a point that is relevant in Saima’s case, is a right granted to women by Islam and the constitution of Pakistan and upheld by numerous court judgments. All consensual marriages are perfectly legal and “Islamic”.

The blood of Shumaila, Hina, Allah Rakhi, Saima and Najma and all the slain women is calling every conscientious human being left in this country. Their blood will not run dry but will continue to seep in the earth staining every inch of this land until it becomes the Crimson Earth.

January 29, 2011
From SPN Newsletter.

Parents and brothers beat young woman in court premises

Imran Mazher

GUJRANWALA, PAKISTAN: A young woman who had contracted marriage out of her own choice, was beaten by her parents and brothers outside the courtroom.

Asmat had arrived to record her statement regarding the fake kidnap case brought against her lover by her parents. Her parents had registered a fake kidnap case against Zulfiqar at the Kamoki Sadr police station.

When Asmat Tahira came to record her statement, her parents and brothers beat her and tore her cloths outside the courtroom, Saturday morning. Asmat Tahira entered the court bare-footed. She said she had contracted marriage with Zulfiqar of her own choice and on one had kidnapped her.

The judge was satisfied with her statement so he granted bail to Zulfiqar in the kidnap case.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

Wife set on fire after acid attack by husband and in-laws

By Khadijah Shah

Gujranwala, Pakistan: In the limits of Sadar Police station a husband sprayed acid on his wife’s face and than sprinkled petrol on her body and set her on fire, causing her death.

Sameena Masih 26, resident of Pasroor was tied in the knot of holy matrimony with Yuel Masih a resident of Marriam Sadiq Town in the limits of Sadar Police. Their union could not produce off spring even after 3 years; this caused frequent wrangles between the couple.

On the day of the incident during an exchange of hot words with Sameena Masih, Yuel Masih became so furious that he with the help of his brother Daud Masih, a sister and his mother hurled acid on her
face and than sprayed her body with petrol and set her on fire.

He took Sameena to CMH (combined military hospital) after doing this heinous crime. He also informed Sameena’s parents that her clothes caught fire while she was working in the kitchen.

When Sameena’s brother Sarfraz reached CMH all the family members of Yuel Masih ran away from the hospital. Doctors informed Sarfraz that acid was poured in in Sameena’s mouth that burnt her tongue, teeth and lips, causing her death.

Adil Masih, cousin of Sameena said that six months ago she was pregnant but unfortunately in a quarrel with Yuel Masih, she was subjected to physical torture which caused miscarriage and permanent loss of conceiving ability.

Sadar Police has registered the case.

Ferhan Mazher
Rays Of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan.

Woman seeks justice for daughter killed by in-laws

Thursday, September 25, 2008
By Arshad Dogar


A WOMAN whose daughter was killed by her in-laws is going from pillar to post to get justice.

Khurshid Bibi, wife of Ramazan, a resident of Kasoki Road Kamoke, Gujranwala, narrated her ordeal to the scribe during her visit to Jang office.

She said Wahndo police, Kamoke, had disobeyed the order of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to arrest the accused. She said that Muhammad Yasin, the investigation officer of case No 256/08, trashed the copy of an application (diary number 1520) marked by Qamar-ul-Zaman, the political secretary to CM, to RPO Gujranwala at an open court of the Punjab CM on September 9, 2008. The IO, however, violated the open court’s directive, saying “Shahbaz is not the first CM I have ‘faced’ “.

She said her daughters married sons of Muhammad Tufail Rehmani, a resident of Chandiali, around 15 years ago. She said Maqboolan Bibi married Manzoor and Bushra Bibi married Anwar. She said her sons-in-law used to argue with her daughters over petty domestic issues. She said Bushra filed a writ petition for dissolution of marriage but withdrew it after reconciliation. She said she was also killed after she rejected her father-in-law’s sexual advances.

She said Anwar allegedly tortured Bushra and Maqboolan on May 26 and they then filed an application with the in charge of police check post, Babar. She said police arrested Anwar, Boota and Tufail on May 29 but released them after they bribed police. Police also forced the girls to return to their in-laws’ house, she alleged. Maqboolan returned to her parents’ home but Bushra once again started living with her husband, she said.

Khurshid Bibi alleged that on June 16 Bushra’s husband and seven others hit her with a heavy object while she was asleep and she died as a result. She said they then staged a drama, pretending Bushra was electrocuted. The victim’s family informed police but duty officials refused to register a case due to which post mortem was not carried.

Police with the connivance of doctors and the accused issued a death certificate with the thumb impression of the victim’s mother. The certificate said that Bushra was electrocuted and that her family does not want to take legal action against anyone.

Khurshid Bibi alleged that IO Yasin and Babar had taken huge bribe on the directions of SHO Wahndo Zulfiqar and pushed her out of the police station when she went there for registration of a case. She got a case registered on court order but police did not take any action against the accused.

Khurshid Bibi said she appeared in the open of court of Punjab CM on September 2 and the application was forwarded to the Gujranwala regional police officer who marked the application to the Gujranwala district police officer. The DPO referred the application to the Kamoke assistant superintendent of police who handed over the investigation to IO Yasin.

Yasin arrested five nominated accused but later released two of them. According to an application by Khurshid Bibi, police did not challan the accused even after 10 days and gave them undue favours.

Bushra’s body was exhumed but doctors were yet to give any report to the victim’s family even after a lapse of 17 days.

Khurshid and her family appeared in the CM’s open court again on September 22 to request for change of investigation officer. The application, however, was marked to the Gujranwala DPO again for routine inquiry.

Kamran Michael, the human rights minister, has also directed police to submit a report on the case within seven days.

Meanwhile, police are threatening victims to stop pursuing the case. Khurshid Bibi has appealed to the Punjab CM to order police to take strict action against the accused and police officials aiding them.

Woman Raped and Murdered

By Imran Mazher

GUJRANWALA, Pakistan: Police have found the body of an unidentified 30-year-old woman, packed in a box, from Upper Chenab Canal.

Some passers-by noticed a box in the canal and informed the Saddr Police. The Police broke the locks of the box and found a bloodstained body of a woman.

The police said that the body was two to three days old, and it seemed as if the victim was strangled after rape, packed in an iron box, and throwing into water.

The body has been moved to DHQ hospital for autopsy, and final findings will be made public after the medical report.

Ferhan Mazher
Rays of Development Organization
Sargodha, Pakistan