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A 20-year-old woman in Muzaffargarh's Kot Addu city was allegedly poisoned on Thursday by her relatives, who were unhappy with her for contracting a free-will marriage earlier this year.

Deen Panah Station House Officer Chaudhry Azhar said that the victim, Sobia, had married Alamsher in January this year. The couple had been living in the same city. A few weeks after her marriage, Sobia's family took the matter to a panchayat, which ordered the victim to return to her family home.

Talking to DawnNewsTV, Alamsher claimed that the family had promised that they would hold a rukhsati ceremony soon after the girl was returned.

On Wednesday night, however, police received a call from Alamsher, who claimed that the woman's uncles — Ghulam Yasin, Sidiq, Essa, Moosa, and an unidentified man — had tortured his wife and later murdered her by forcing her to drink paraphenylenediamine, commonly known as kala pathar ('black rock').

When the police arrived at Sobia's family home, they found her body on a charpoy.

A first information report was registered against the victim's family with the state as the complainant. However, Alamsher is insistent that a case should be lodged with him as the complainant.

According to the police, the victim's body bore torture marks. Officials expressed suspicions that she was poisoned, but have not ruled out the possibility of suicide.

The body was sent to the Kot Addu Tehsil Headquarters Hospital for a post-mortem examination. A report is awaited.

Deaths from paraphenylenediamine poisoning, which is widely used in hair dyes, have been on the rise, especially in rural areas where the chemical is inexpensive and easily accessible.

According to Dr Aamir Bokhari, director of the Accident and Emergency ward at Bahawal Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur, cases of paraphenylenediamine poisoning were reported in the ward almost daily, with many of the patients succumbing to the poison.