Noor Azam, Noor Mohammad and Muhammad Umer and Muhammad Aziz were also sentenced to life imprisonment and Rs800,000 fine to be given to the deceased Deedar Hussain’s father as compensation
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Gilgit has handed down death sentence to four men for gang raping and murdering a teenaged boy Deedar Hussain in Gilgit-Baltistan’s western Ghizer district.
ATC Judge Raja Shahbaz Khan on Tuesday also slapped Noor Azam, Noor Mohammad and Muhammad Umer and Muhammad Aziz with a fine of Rs300,000 each.
Nazir Ahmed Advocate, counsel for the complainant, while talking to The High Asia Herald, expressed his satisfaction over the judgment and hoped that it will provide solace to the parents of the deceased.
The four convicted men brutally murdered 15 years old Deedar Hussain, a ninth grader of a local school, after kidnapping and sexually assaulting him at Tashnalote village of the Ishkoman tehsil of Ghizer District.
The judgment stated that the prosecution has proved the involvement of the four accused in abduction, sodomy and murder of the boy.
Judge Khan held that the accused do not deserve any leniency as they have kidnapped the boy, brutally subjected him to their lust, and killed him by strangulation and threw his body into a river to cover up their crime.
“The callous and brutal act of sodomy coupled with atrocious killing by strangulation, throwing the body into the river and placing heavy stones on the dead body of the deceased created fear and terror in the area.
“The manner in which the accused had committed the offence does not call for any leniency in the sentence,” the judgment stated, citing two verdicts of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Federal Shariat Court in two similar cases.
The SC in its 2009 verdict in a similar crime had held that “Penalty of death must be imposed if the court finds the manner and method of incident to be in nature of brutality, horrific, heinous, shocking involving terrorist nature creating panic in society as a whole or in part callous and cold-blooded. In such cases the penalty of death sentence must not be withheld”.
The ATC judge sentenced the four men to death under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and sections 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 for murder with Rs300,000 each, the complainant’s counsel Nazir Ahmed Advocate told the High Asia Herald.
Moreover, the court convicted the four men for life imprisonment (25 years) under Section 367-A (kidnapping or abducting for unnatural lust) and Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the PPC, with imposition of a fine of Rs200,000 each.
The convicts will additionally undergo 10 years’ imprisonment under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and Section 34 of the PPC and will have to pay a fine of Rs200,000 each, the judgment further stated.
The ATC judge also sentenced them to five years imprisonment along with a fine of Rs100,000 each to the culprits under Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and Section 34 of the PPC.
Aziz, one of the four convicts, was handed two years extra rigorous imprisonment for hiding the mobile phone of the victim, as according to the lawyer, the judge felt “Aziz had more of a role than the others in the crimes”.
The convicts may file appeal against their conviction in 15 days in the Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Court.
The gruesome incident occurred on February 6, 2019 when Deedar, 15, had gone to a shop to but easyload credit for his mobile.
According to the FIR lodged by the deceased’s father with the Imit police, the culprits kidnapped the boy, sexually assaulted him, strangulated and threw his body in a river. His body was recovered on Feb 8.
The incident sparked massive protests and outrage across Gilgit-Baltistan and GB Diaspora in Pakistani cities on social media demanding ‘exemplary punishment’ for the culprits.
Following which the Immit police arrested six suspects, including Muhammad Umer his brother Aziz, Noor Azam, and Noor Muhammad, who confessed to their crime. The police freed two suspects.
Following the public anger, a joint investigation team (JIT) was set up on February 16 which completed its investigation and submitted a challan in the ATC on March 16, 2019. The court on March 25 indicted the accused and started trial of the case.
The prosecution presented and examined 13 witnesses in support of the complainant.
The cruel numbers
More than 12 children are abused every day in Pakistan, says Sahil, a non-government organisation working for child rights. In its annual report ‘Cruel Numbers 2017’ Sahil noted that 3,445 children were sexually abused. Among them 2,077 were girls and 1,368 were boys.
The social malaise
The menace of child sexual abuse incidents is on the rise in Gilgit-Baltistan. According to Aziz Ali Dad, a social scientist and writer, the crime has become a part of a subculture of Gilgit-Baltistan’s society.
“Since the society is under the influence of false consciousness and values, its members are in denial mode that such evil exists within. The crime is occurring even in the remotest parts of rural areas in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The malaise of child sexual abuse is deeply rooted in the culture of Gilgit-Baltistan. If we delve deep into the cultural practices, deconstruct the language and dig deep into the archaeology of cultural mindset, we find a pattern of behaviour among a certain section of males who are engaged in paedophilia, molestation, and sodomy.
“To save children from predatory culture, it is imperative to get rid of prevailing mindset of society that harbours bad faith, dual morality, fallacies and libidinal urges within,” he says.