Police write to GB govt to take action against the doctor who spoiled forensic evidence
By Gul Nayab
The government has filed a plea in a court for cancellation of bail of the prime accused in the Adeeba murder case amid protests in different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and other cities seeking justice for the victim and an end to rising incidents of suicide and violence against women in the mountainous societies.
The Gilgit-Baltistan police chief has admitted that the 22 years old woman had been murdered but the doctor who conducted the autopsy has deliberately spoiled the crucial evidence by adding less than 10% formalin in the sample due to which the Punjab Forensic Science Lab refused to do an analysis of the sample.
In an interview with a local channel, the IGP said that till the recent past such crimes would be hushed up under the guise of suicide. But the police investigated a number of such cases and found out that the victims had been murdered.
We have decided that henceforth all suicide cases will be probed to find real causes of death.
A court in Gilgit on Friday last granted bail to Adeeba’s father-in-law, Samim Shah, and brother-in-law Fahim Shah, which prompted strong anger and anguish from civil society and political activists and condemnation on social media.
A massive protest by people, mostly women, and activists, was organized at Gulmit, headquarter of Gojal Sub-Division of Hunza District on Monday. They were joined by over 50 youth from Shimshal, seeking justice for Adeeba, re-investigation of the case, and cancellation of bail of the prime accused.
In an unprecedented move, young women and men had been protesting in Shimshal since Friday, and across the country, against the bail granted to the accused.
The protesters also demanded that the forensic report should be made public, and laws against domestic violence should be enacted in the region.
A protest was also staged outside Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly on Monday. Speaking to the protesters, Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmad Advocate assured that the government will look into the case again and deal with the culprits with iron hands who are creating hurdles in the path of provision of justice to Adeeba.
The Deputy Speaker raised questions on the investigation and assured that the government will take notice of it and ensure the provision of justice to the victim.
He said that it was the responsibility of the state and the government to protect the lives of citizens as guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan.
Addressing the protesters, right activists demanded early legislation on domestic violence against women and enforcement of laws on fundamental human rights. They slammed the government for not giving basic human rights top priority.
They alleged that some influential elements have been manipulating and influencing the investigation to weaken the case and to benefit the accused. They demanded the Chairman of the Supreme Applet Court, the regional government, and the police to order a fresh investigation to find out the causes and culprits behind the murder of Adeeba and hand down exemplary punishment to them.
For the first time, women and men have come on the streets in such large numbers and condemned domestic violence.
Over a dozen young people mostly women are murdered under the guise of suicide in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral.
Activists blame the provincial government and religious institutions for not taking concrete measures to curb such heinous crimes and putting them under the carpet in the name of honour.
In June three murder cases were reported from Hunza Gojal and Ghizer.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also issued a statement expressing concerns over reports of honour crimes in Gilgit-Baltistan disguised as suicides. The HRCP demanded reinvestigations of the Adeeba murder case by a team including a female member and also demanded to cancel the bail of the accused.
Earlier on Sunday, a protest was held at the National Press Club, Islamabad where the speakers said that it was disheartening to see women suffering in so-called educated societies and asked for immediate enactment of a law against domestic violence in Gilgit-Baltistan.
They said that people commit serious crimes and hide behind the veil of traditions, customs, and honour.
Similarly, civil society members, activists, and students from GB converged in front of Karachi Press Club to raise their voices against the injustice prevailing in the societies against women and girls. The speakers urged the judiciary to provide justice to Adeeba and make the culprits an example.
According to the FIR, Adeeba was killed by her in-laws in June after seven months of her marriage threw her body at a nearby riverbank and showed it as a suicide. The police arrested the in-laws of the victim on the complaint of the woman’s family members.
The Gulmit Police after preliminary investigation, registered an FIR against the suspects under section 302/34, in which it was mentioned that the two accused had confessed to their crime. The accused, Samim Shah and Faheem Shah (Father and Son), were later sent to jail by a session court, while the investigation was underway.
The family of Adiba has submitted a review petition, requesting the court to cancel the bail and use forensic evidence, including the autopsy report to dispense justice.
The call for the protests in Karachi and Islamabad was given by Girls Razhek, a feminist group, NSFGB, WDF, AWP and KNM, and other civil society organizations. In Karachi activists including noted artist Sheema Kirmani, Rahim Khan, Azhar Ali, Sher Babu, Noshad Karim, and others addressed the protesters and demanded re-investigation of the case and cancellation of the bail of the accused.
In Islamabad, the protester demanded of the Gilgit-Baltistan Government to enact the law against domestic violence. The other demands included setting up women police stations across GB where women can easily report their complaints.
AWP and Progressive Students Federation (PrSF Islamabad-Rawalpindi) members participated in the protest. Talking to The High Asia Herald, AWP Punjab president Ammar Rasheed said “We condemn this injustice and demand the local authorities to take immediate action against Adeeba’s murderers.”
There should be a proper investigation of the matter. We demand the government to pass and implement the domestic violence bill as soon as possible to deal with patriarchal violence which women face every single day within their homes, he shared.
Helpline facilities should be launched and extended across the region. At the district level, a social centre for women should be set up with a social worker, a psychologist, and a lady police officer available to help women with domestic violence issues. Shelter houses should be set up for women in distress at the district level.
They vowed to continue the struggle till justice is done to Adeeba’s family and other victims.