One the midnight of 7th October last year, two brothers Saddam Bugti and Nazim Bugti were sleeping in their house. Located in Goth Gul Gomar Khan Bugti of Naseerabad district, the home of Bugti brothers was stormed by unidentified people at midnight, who shot Saddam and Nazim at point-blank range. The assailants easily fled the crime scene but everyone in the neighborhood knew that this must be a case of Honor killing, which is called Siya Kari in the local language.
Naseerabad division of Balochistan is notorious for rampant honor killings. Very frequently, men and women are shot or axed to death on allegations of fornication. Whenever a man and women are believed to be having an extra-marital affair then the brother, father or husband of the women kill both the man and women involved in the affair. These killings are meant to restore the honor of the family of women involved in honor and that’s why these are called “Honor Killings.” Interviews of this scribe with multiple residents of Naseerabad division and civil society activists revealed that most of the allegations of extra-marital affairs are based on rumors, which are not always substantiated.
Qaim Khan Bugti, wearing a local Balochi cap and sporting a white beard is the 60-year-old father of Saddam and Nazim Bugti. Sitting in his hut-like rented home, He narrates the ordeal of the honor killing of his two sons. “I am a tenant farmer and my sons were my only source of support in this age,” He told this scribe.
Qaim Khan Bugti revealed that the next day after killing of his sons, He received a phone call. “We have killed your sons for honor killing and also killed one of our women, who was involved with them,” said the person on the phone. Later, Qaim Khan Bugti came to know through his relatives that a girl in Karachi was electrocuted to death as honor killing in this case. “My sons were innocent and they were declared Karo (guilty of an extra-marital affair) and killed without any proof,” He told Balochistan Voices.
Naseerabad Division: The center of Honor killings
A careful inspection of newspaper archives by this scribe revealed that since January 2017, more than 60 cases of Honor killing have been reported in media from Balochistan. Most of these cases took place in Naseerabad division and the victim families kept away from approaching Police due to societal pressure. As per the report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 30 cases of honor killing were reported in Balochistan in the year 2018 alone. This report only log cases where were reported in media but not all the cases of honor killing are reported to the media.
Sumera the old mother of Saddam and Nazim, while cradling the children of Saddam, said that there is no justice for my children. “My grandchildren were deprived of their father and now we have to take care of them while we have limited resources to live our own lives,” She complained.
Qaim Khan Bugti alleges that when he went to lodge a report against the killing of his sons with the police, he was asked to pay bribe which he could not afford. “Even our neighbors and relatives did not support us in legally pursuing the killers of our sons,” complained Qaim Khan Bugti. He added, “we were told to let go of this matter because this is what the God wanted.”
No Law for Honor Killing
The main reason that honor killings get unpunished is the lack of appropriate laws. Normal criminal justice system cannot effectively punish the Honor killers because most of them are relatives of the victims and they are pardoned by the family of the victims. In most cases, brothers kill their sisters for honor killing and the parents later pardon their son.
Muhammad Ali Kanrani Advocate, President of Supreme Court Bar association, also belongs to Naseerabad division. He told this scribe that the reason that brutal acts of honor killings get unpunished is that there is no special law to deal with this matter. “A few years ago members of Balochistan Assembly had tabled a bill for anti-Honor killing legislation but unfortunately that bill never passed through the standing committee stage,” He said. Kanrani further elaborated that Balochistan High Court in a verdict directed law enforcement agencies to book the cases of Honor killings according to Anti-Terrorism Act. “Later Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed that verdict and now [honor killing] cases are registered under Section 302, 310 as murder cases,” He lamented.
Honor Killing: A means to settle personal enmities
Qadir Naseeb is a social activist, who has campaigned extensively against honor killings. He has marched twice from Tehsil-Chatar to Dera Murad Jamali within Naseerabad district against Honor killings. “Honor killings have now become a factional issue and people use it to settle personal enmities with each other,” He claimed. “If a man is killed in honor killing then his wife is sold to another man as a bride,” revealed Naseeb. He further added that parents of Saddam Bugti have also sold his widow into marriage with another man.
“Local Jirga discourages punishment of the culprits involved in honor killings and therefore the government has to actively pursue every case to dispense justice,” said Hameeda Noor a social activist working with Shirkat Gah.
Zafar Baloch, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Naseerabad, confirmed that few cases of Honor killing were genuinely related to honor. “Most of the cases were the result of old personal enmity and land mafia uses this “curse” for its advantage,” He added. He claimed that since He has assumed the office of DC, the situation is under control.
DC Naseerabad denied that there is any pressure on the administration to curb the issue of Honor killing. “I have organized two debates regarding this issue, and in future, I am going to launch an awareness campaign across the district about Honor killing,” He concluded.
Irfan Bashir Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Naseerabad denied the claim that Police seeks bribe for victims before registering cases against culprits of Honor Killing crimes. “Under my supervision, we have solved many cases and have apprehended many proclaimed offenders,” He claimed. He added that all the Station House Officers (SHOs) have been given directions to ensure strict legal action to bring the culprits to the book.
The Way Forward
HRCP in its report has recommended that the government of Balochistan should allocate a greater amount of resources for investigation and prosecution for Honor killing crimes. The government needs to launch awareness campaigns through the media to combat violence in the name of honor killing.
“Until and unless strict legislation is draft on this matter it will continue to destroy the social fabric of our society, suggested Hameeda Noor.
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