Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Islamabad: A 22-year old woman was allegedly electrocuted by her relatives on the orders of a ‘panchayat’ — a council of village elders — in the name of family honour in Pakistan’s province of Punjab, a newspaper reported yesterday.

Officials here said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had taken notice of the report and told the police to investigate and submit their findings urgently.

According to the report, Saima, of Basti Hakra village in Bahawalpur district, allegedly eloped with a man who worked in Karachi and her parents brought her back on Friday and electrocuted her at night after the ‘panchayat’ ordered her execution. It said police learnt of the incident on Saturday when she was about to be buried.

Saima’s relatives claimed she had committed suicide by taking pesticides, but a post-mortem examination arranged by the police suggested that the young woman was either electrocuted or burnt with boiling water or both, report said.

Burn marks

“There are signs of torture and burns on her neck, back and hands which are most probably caused by electrocution,” said the police official, The family had gone to a local court in a bid to stop the autopsy but their plea was rejected by the judge and the post-mortem was carried out, the report added.Zahoor Rabbani, from Bahawalpur district in east Pakistan where the alleged killing took place. He was speaking to Reuters by telephone.

Saima’s death appeared to be what is known as an honour killing.

Such killings are common in rural areas where, under centuries-old tribal customs, getting married without the permission of male relatives or having sex outside marriage is deemed a serious slight to the honour of the family or the tribe.

Hundreds of people, mostly women, are killed in Pakistan in the name of “honour” every year, with the majority of victims from poor, rural families.

Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission said in its latest report that nearly 650 women were killed in that way in 2009.Saima fell in love with her neighbour, Dilawar, and eloped to Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi this month, Rabbani said.

Her relatives persuaded her to return to her home on the promise that she would be allowed to marry him.

“Her father, uncles and other relatives later refused to fulfil her wish because they said the boy comes from a lower caste,” he said.

“Her uncles and other influential people killed her when she refused to marry according to their will.”

Police raided Bibi’s village home on a tip from a villager who said her relatives were telling people that she had committed a suicide and they were burying her. Rabbani said Bibi’s father, Abdul Majeed, and an uncle had been detained.

- With inputs from Reuters


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