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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Body found in river Kent might be Shafilea's: Police

Police says if the body is that of Shafilea then this might be another case of honour killing in the UK, reports Vijay Dut.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2004 15:59 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

Fear has intensified that the body of a young woman washed up on a riverbank might be that of a teenager who fled from home after her family arranged her marriage in Pakistan. This might be another case of honour killing that has cost lives of nearly 20 young women.

Jewellery found next to the badly decomposed body was said to be very similar to that worn by 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed when she disappeared five months ago. The police had initially interrogated her parents on suspicion of "honour killing" but nothing could be proved. They have now been asked to identify the topaz ring and gold bracelet discovered by the body in the river Kent at Sedgwick, near Kendal, in Cumbria.

A post-mortem on the corpse has been inconclusive but the police hopes to identify through DNA tests. The detectives have in any case decided to start a murder investigation. They are almost sure that the body is that of Ahmed. She was A-level student and could have been a victim of honour killing because of her reluctance to marry the person chosen by her family. She has not been seen since September 11 last year after a row over the marriage issue. Her friends described her as brilliant and exceptionally bright.

She is alleged to have drunk bleach causing serious internal injuries, after the said row, possibly to gain sympathy of her family. She later disappeared, yet her parents did not inform the police. Her teachers alerted the Yard when she did not go to the school for eight days. When questioned, her parents admitted she was missing but said they presumed she had gone to stay with friends.

The investigating officer had said last November that although the parents maintained that Shafilea was free to make up her mind about the marriage, he would be investigating the circumstances in relation to the marriage in Pakistan, the marriage proposal and events leading up to the trip to the country. She had been, it was said, taken to Pakistan and asked to marry a person chosen by her parents.

There was no trace of her until now. The police had launched a massive hunt for her. The actress Shobna Gulati in the popular TV serial Coronation Street, had read out heart-rending lyrics written by Shafilea and found in her bedroom in an attempt to trace her. She had written, "I was like a normal teenage kid, didn't ask 2 much. I just wanted to fit in, but my culture was different. Now I'm sitting here playing happy families still crying tears… I wish my parents would be proud of wot I have done but instead it's ' you have brought us shame'." 

Her parents are presently on police bail. Scotland Yard is extremely worried about the rising number of the so-called honour killings. There have been at least six in London alone. It has now set up a working group to examine the issue.
Commander Andy Baker said, "So-called honour killings are murder, pure and simple. They are planned and are hate crimes."

First Published: Feb 20, 2004 15:59 IST

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