Pakistani girl strangled, body burnt ‘for helping friend elope’ | world | Hindustan Times
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Pakistani girl strangled, body burnt ‘for helping friend elope’

A teenage girl was drugged, strangled and her body set alight on the orders of a tribal council in northwest Pakistan because she helped her friend elope, police said on Thursday as they announced the arrest of 14 men for the killing.

world Updated: May 05, 2016 16:44 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
The victim, believed to be around 20 years old, was killed then burned in a Suzuki van on the orders of the village jirga.
The victim, believed to be around 20 years old, was killed then burned in a Suzuki van on the orders of the village jirga.(File photo)

A teenage girl was drugged, strangled and her body set alight on the orders of a tribal council in northwest Pakistan because she helped her friend elope, police said on Thursday as they announced the arrest of 14 men for the killing.

A case was registered in an anti-terrorism court against the men for allegedly ordering the killing of 15-year-old Ambreen at Makol village near Abbottabad, officials said.

The tribal jirga or council acted against Ambreen on April 29 after she girl helped her friend, Saima, elope and get married to a man named Musa. The jirga was convened on the insistence of the relatives of the couple. It ruled that Saima, Musa and Ambreen should all be killed for violating local traditions.

After the decision, Ambreen was dragged from her home by members of the jirga. They then drugged and strangled her. Ambreen’s body was then placed in a van, which was set on fire.

The van was earlier used by Saima and Musa and the vehicle’s driver was also punished, police said. Saima and Musa are safe, police added.

Police started an investigation after it emerged there was a body in the burnt van. More details came to light after the van’s owner was arrested.

Local police chief Khurram Rasheed told a news conference the whole village had not disclosed what had happened to Ambreen for a week. It was only after the van’s driver provided details of the murder that the police were able to make arrests.

“The parents of Ambreen have also been arrested as they did not come forward to register the crime,” said Rasheed.

In a related development, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said people should protest against such jirgas. “We need to stand up and protest against such jirgas and their decisions,” he told the media.

Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the pretext of defending family “honour” but it is rare to hear of those who facilitate elopements being killed. Pakistan amended its criminal code in 2005 to prevent men who kill female relatives escape punishment by pardoning themselves as an heir of the victim.

“A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness” – a film telling the story of a rare survivor of an attempted honour killing – won the Academy Award for best documentary short in February. Amid publicity for the film, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to eradicate the “evil” of honour killings but no fresh legislation has been tabled since then.