ABBOTTABAD: The chilling murder of a 16-year-old girl strangled and set on fire in Galyat's Makol village has been linked to the orders given by a local jirga last week, police said Thursday.
Abbottabad police said a 15-member jirga called by the Makol village councillor Pervez ordered for the deceased, Ambreen, to be killed and set on fire as punishment for helping her friend escape the village to marry of her free will. Thirteen members have been arrested and due to appear before an anti-terrorism court, including the victim's mother, said police.
When the jirga ended after a six-hour meeting on April 28, the girl was taken from her home to an abandoned house where she was drugged, killed, and placed in the backseat of a parked van. The van was then doused with petrol and set on fire.
The charred body of the teenage girl was found in a torched Suzuki van in Donga Gali on Friday. Police recovered the drugs from the abandoned house near the site, as well as the can of petrol used to start the fire.
The body was tied to the seat of the vehicle, which was parked at a bus stop in the village. Another vehicle parked near the gutted van was also damaged. Police moved the body to Ayub Medical Complex for an autopsy.
The girl was later identified as the daughter of Riasat, a labourer who works in Balochistan’s Gadani area.
A police official told Dawn that the fire on the bus had occurred at 3am.
According to District Police Officer (DPO) Khurram Rasheed, a couple eloped and left Makol April 23 for Abbottabad with the girl’s help and a driver named Naseer. A jirga was called at Naseer’s home when the couple could not be found.
DPO Rasheed said the case will be tried by an Anti-Terrorism Court and "exemplary punishment" will be recommended by the police.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPA Shaukat Yousafzai told DawnNews "strict action" will taken against the jirga which ordered the brutal ruling. "This is not a part of KP's culture," he said.
"This is the first time an incident of this type has taken place."
He hailed the role of the local police for solving a case "that shook the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa" and lauded them for taking the investigation forward in a professional manner.
A jirga is a local community council composed of local elders and notables and a traditional dispute resolution forum.