#JusticeforAdiba: married woman's death sparks outrage in Gilgit-Baltistan

Her body was found near Shimshal river on June 6
adiba perveen protest

Adiba Perveen, 20, was found dead near Shimshal river on June 6. Her in-laws claimed that she died by suicide but her family said that she was tortured to death by her husband’s family.

After the case was reported, many people on social media raised their voices and demanded justice for the resident of Gilgit-Baltistan using the hashtag #JusticeforAdiba.

On Monday, protests were held in Gulmit, Gojal, and outside the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly. Women and men of the region demanded justice for the woman while holding placards that read: “women rights are human rights”, “Raise your voice for Adiba”, “Shatter the silence, and stop the violence” and “Listen when a girl says No”.

Murder or suicide?

The police had received information at its control room about a body near a river in Khizarabad, according to the FIR registered on June 7. The police sent the body to the hospital for the post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of death.

Adiba’s brother Najat Baig said that she had married Nadeem Shah seven months ago. Baig filed a complaint against the woman’s husband and in-laws and claimed that she had told him that they will murder her someday.

The woman’s husband Nadeem Shah, his father Shamim Shah, his mother Naik Bakht Shah, brother Faheem Shah and sister Tabassum Shah have been named in the case. Her brother claimed that, at first, they had portrayed the murder as a suicide.

The FIR was registered under Section 302 (punishment of qatl-i-amd) read with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The police then arrested Shamim, Nadeem, and Faheem on June 8, and Naik Bakht and Tabassum on June 14. After the investigation was completed, the police remanded Shamim and Faheem to judicial cusotody, whereas Naik Bakht, Nadeem, and Tabassum were released.

In-laws released on bail

On August 7, Shamim and Faheem’s applied for bail. Their lawyers argued that no ocular evidence was presented in court, adding that the autopsy report does not support their case.

The lawyers of Adiba’s family, however, argued that she was killed because of gross domestic violence.

Sessions Judge Mushtaq Muhammad approved their bail against surety bonds of Rs300,000 each on August 9. The verdict said that "a bare reading of the FIR reveals that no accused person is directly charged for the alleged murder of the deceased and there is no eye witness named in the FIR."

The allegation of domestic violence is devoid of any proof and no circumstantial evidence is available on record, it said, adding “the senior medical officer has not recorded any conclusion regarding the cause of death.”

Adiba’s family has, however, asked the authorities to cancel their bail.

Gojal Assistant Commissioner Arif Hussain, while addressing protesters in Gulmit on Monday, said that the government had filed an appeal in the chief court and challenged the bail of the suspects.

“We are standing with the innocent woman and justice will be meted out to her family,” he promised.

Post-mortem report

The post-mortem report has been prepared by Dr Farhan Karim, Dr Jamil Alam, and Dr Asma Baig. Her body was examined at Civil Hospital, Gulmit.  

The report, a copy of which is available with SAMAA Digital, said that there were multiple bruises and old wounds on her face, an old bruise on her chest, and discolouration near her arms.

The report said that the “probable cause of death will be ascertained after the final reports of forensics.

Protest outside the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly

Israruddin Israr, the provincial coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, remarked that the people were angered after the prime suspects were released on bail. “People asked how suspects can secure bail in a case where everything is so evident.”

Adiba’s in-laws had claimed that she had died by suicide. Her parents had, however, said that she had told them that she had been suffering physical and emotional violence at the hands of her in-laws. The parents asked her to return home and save her marriage and the very next day her body was found near a river, Israr shared.

GB Assembly Deputy Speaker Nazir Ahmed remarked that the protesters have raised their voices against the lack of trial. “Let me tell you that if someone secures a bail then it is not the final verdict,” he remarked.

“I don’t know a lot about this case but it seems that people are unhappy with the way the investigation has unfolded in the case.” He said that he has taken notice and such a crime is unacceptable.

adiba protest
A picture of the protest outside the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly held on August 16, 2021. Photo: Manzar Shigri/SAMAA TV

The government is responsible for ensuring the security of life and property. “I want to assure you that the government is working and justice will be served,” he told the protesters.

A protester said that they have staged the protest in the month of Muharram because "our religion teaches us to fight for the rights of the oppressed."

“The suspects were granted bail but we want this case to be properly investigated. The oppressors must be punished,” he remarked.

He said that the law must tackle the clause on compromise. “In most cases, the families of victims are blackmailed into making a compromise. This system needs to end.”

‘Gulmit protest was historic’

Around 400 to 500 attended the protest in Hunza’s Gulmit. This is probably the first time in Hunza’s history that such a large mob gathered for the protection of women rights, Asif Sakhi of the Awami Workers Party told SAMAA Digital.

“The best part about the protest was that it was organised by the women of the region. We consider it a success because it shows that these women don’t need male politicians to fight their battles now.”

He also shared that many cases of crimes against women are labelled ‘suicide’ and then buried. The rights of women in this region are constantly infringed and they continue to suffer.

Sakhi claimed that Abida’s in-laws belonged to a powerful family and, thus, they were able to influence the outcome of the case.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has also expressed its concern over reports of honour crimes in Gilgit-Baltistan being disguised as suicides.

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