Family of woman ‘burnt alive’ seeks justice
By Roshan Mughal
MUZAFFARABAD: The family of the 22-year-old Saiqa Ashraf, who was burnt alive by unknown persons in June, say they are being pressurised to reach a compromise with those who perpetrated this heinous act. So far, the two people arrested with regards to her death have been released on bail.
According to Saiqa’s brother Astifar Ahmed, his sister was locked in a room in her house in Munasah, Dheerkot, by one Kazim Khan, his son Usman and her paternal uncle, Iqbal, for wanting to marry Kazim Khan’s son Suleiman. Saiqa was related to all the accused though Iqbal was the nearest relation.
Her father, Ashraf, who suffers from paralysis and another brother who is blind, were unable to rescue her, Ahmed said at a press conference. “Kazim Khan, his sons and Iqbal came to our house on June 1 and burnt my sister after using disgracing and insulting language about her.”
Kazim Khan is a former councilor of the area and the most influential and well-off member of Saiqa’s extended family which mostly comprises poor farmers. It is alleged that Iqbal wanted Suleiman to marry his daughter and was not in favour of Saiq.
The burning incident took place on June 1 and Saiqa died on June 10 at Sheikh Khalifa Zaid al Nahayan CMH hospital in Muzaffarabad.
Ahmed said on Wednesday that the family was now being forced to reconcile with Kazim Khan as well as being threatened not to reveal the details of the incident. Kazim Khan, meanwhile, claimed at another press conference at the Muzaffrabad Press Club earlier in the week that Saiqa had committed suicide.
The local chief of Ansar Burney Trust International, Khawaja Talib, said that a member of the legislative assembly from the area was protecting the accused and had visited the police station when Iqbal and Khan’s son Usman were being detained.
Talib also told The Express Tribune that several fancy cars were seen at the Dheerkot Police Station during this time. He said that the pressure on the police to release the accused was intense.
Moreover, the two were apparently arrested for disrupting law and order and not for allegedly setting Saiqa on fire. While the FIR had been lodged at the behest of Saiqa’s brother on June 2, arrests were not made till June 10 when Saiqa died and the people of the area protested by blocking the Kohala Bridge which links Azad Jammu Kashmir with Pakistan. Following the protest, Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan ordered the arrest of the accused.
The police also let Khan, the main accused, leave the area when they were making arrests. It is said that Saiqa had also named Khan as one of the culprits in her last statement.
Meanwhile, the people in the area are saying that even if Saiqa did commit suicide, she was forced by circumstances created by Khan and the other accused persons.
Source: The Express Tribune