‘She was disowned for marrying of her choice’
“This seems to be one of those so-called honour killings. The victim, Hajra, had been disowned by her family over a year ago for marrying a man of her choice, Tahir. Though we do not have evidence yet, it is highly probable that Tahir too has been murdered somewhere in Karachi.”
These details were shared with The News on Friday by Sub-Inspector Mehmood Khan, the cop appointed as the investigation officer for a probe into the murder of 23-year-old Hajra, who was found shot dead two days earlier in an alleyway behind the intermediate board’s office in Block-P of North Nazimabad.
“Both [Hajra and Tahir] were from Pashtun families of the Hassanzai tribe living in Umer Farooq Colony in North Nazimabad. They were neighbours who developed a liking for each other and, around a year-and-a-half ago, sought their families’ permission to marry,” said the officer.
He said the families were strongly opposed to the idea and the couple was forced to run away to save their lives. “They left the area and took up residence somewhere else in Karachi. Since Hajra’s body was recovered, her family and that of Tahir’s are nowhere to be found in the city.”
“There have been other such murders reported in Umer Farooq Colony. The area has a large Pashtun population, the majority being members of the Hassanzai tribe. It is very likely that the tribe’s elders who would have sanctioned the couple’s murders also forced their families to leave the city as punishment,” said SI Khan.
The officer lamented that the colony had been virtually functioning like ‘Kala Dhaka’, referring to the erstwhile semi-tribal area that was made Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) 25th district and renamed ‘Tor Ghar’ in January 2011.
Khan’s apprehensions could be drawn from incidents such as the one reported in Umar Farooq Colony on July 21 this year wherein police found the dead bodies of 20-year-old Sajid and 22-year-old Kulsoom Khatoon, both KP natives, from a house in the colony. Kulsoom’s father and brother were the prime suspects in the ‘honour’ killing as her family had fled their house following the murders.
The case so far
On Thursday, the Shahrah-e-Noor Jehan police had received a call about the body of a burqa-clad woman lying in a narrow lane right behind the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi’s office in Block-P, North Nazimabad.
An officer of the police station, ASI Akhlaq, told The News that the body was taken straight to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for an autopsy.
The station house officer of the police station, Amir Shah, backed up the ASI’s version and said a senior female medico-legal officer, Dr Rohina, had conducted the autopsy. “In her report, Dr Rohina estimates that Hajra was killed at around 6:45am on Thursday. The report states that Hajra had been subjected to torture before being shot thrice; twice in the neck and once in the head,” said Shah.
He added that the first responders had found three spent bullet shells near the body and they had been sent on for a forensic analysis.
SHO Shah said Hajra was identified with the help of some residents of Umar Farooq Colony where she used to live with her family before marriage.
Soon after, a man purporting to be Hajra’s paternal uncle showed up at the police station to take away her body. “The man told us that Hajra was the daughter of his only brother, Rasool Khan. He said Rasool and the rest of the family had disowned Hajra after she defied their hostility to marry another member of their clan, Tahir. The man claimed that Hajra and Tahir also have a child.”
The SHO, who somehow failed to recall the name of Hajra’s supposed uncle, said the man told them that Hajra and Tahir had left Umar Farooq Colony around one-and-a-half year ago and had never returned since. “He [the uncle] said he was trying to contact Hajra’s father but had been unsuccessful because the family was now living in a village in Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa and had no mobile phone.”
FIR on state’s behalf
By Friday evening, the Shahrah-e-Noor Jehan police had registered an FIR of the murder, No. 222/17, under Sections 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), against unidentified culprits on behalf of the state.
Interestingly, while the police have not even mentioned the name of the supposed uncle in the FIR, they somehow saw it fit to handover Hajra’s dead body to the as-yet unidentified man.
When SHO Shah was asked about the reason for registering an FIR on the state’s behalf instead of the purported uncle, he said the man “did not fulfil the quorum of case registration as he had incomplete information”.
The News then tried multiple times to contact SSP District Central Irfan Baloch for clarification on the FIR registration matter but the senior officer was not available for comments.
The case investigation officer, SI Mehmood Khan, too was doubtful over the purported uncle’s claims. “It is highly unlikely that a man who lived with his only brother all his life does not know his sibling’s exact whereabouts or does not maintain contact with him.”
“We plan to bring that man in for interrogation again. We will try to get information from him regarding Rasool Khan and his family’s departure from Karachi. Also, we hope to acquire the phone numbers of Hajra, Tahir and their families so that their Call Data Record (CDR) can be examined at the earliest.”