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Judicial probe sought into murder of people involved in Kohistan video scandal

Updated March 15, 2019

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The case came to light in 2012 when reports emerged that an online video of two young men dancing before a group of girls had led to murder of eight people. — Screengrab/File
The case came to light in 2012 when reports emerged that an online video of two young men dancing before a group of girls had led to murder of eight people. — Screengrab/File

ISLAMABAD: Human rights activists and members of civil society at a meeting on Thursday proposed a judicial inquiry into the Kohistan video scandal of 2012 which led to killing of eight people, five of them girls.

The meeting, organised by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), decided to call the local administration of Kohistan and Abbottabad in the next hearing of the case.

The case came to light in 2012 when reports emerged that an online video of two young men dancing before a group of girls had led to murder of eight people. Five girls, as well as a man dancing in the video clip, and his two brothers, were allegedly murdered on a jirga’s orders.

Although fact-finding missions have been unable to definitively establish whether the murders had taken place, circumstantial and empirical evidence strongly suggest that the killings did take place.

The NCHR said that it had already sought a report from the DCO and DPO of Abbottabad about the recent murder of Muhammad Afzal Kohistani, the brother of one of the boys in the video scandal who had fist made the news public.

The meeting also proposed that for better adjudication of the case, the government must become a party to it.

The meeting decided that the NCHR, along with civil society, would write to the Human Rights Cell of the Peshawar High Court and request it to take up the matter and become a party to the case.

Speaking on the occasion, NCHR member Chaudhry Shafiq suggested that the matter should be taken up with the prime minister by writing him a letter as the case had been lingering on since 2012 and it had taken lives of several innocent people so far.

The NCHR informed the meeting that it would ask social welfare organisations to help families of the victims and uplift their economic conditions as they had no sources of livelihood.

The participants of the meeting observed that cases of honour killing were frequently reported in the country and there was an urgent need to stop such incidents.

Mr Kohistani was the first person who exposed the jirga system and the honour killing of the five girls in 2012 and brought the video scandal to the national attention. He had said at that time that the girls in the video had been killed by their families and that lives of his two younger brothers, one of them was seen dancing in the video footage, were also in danger. Later, his two brothers were also murdered.

The participants of the meeting argued that had the matter been dealt with wisely from the beginning, many lives could have been saved.

Speaking at the meeting, renowned human rights activist Farzana Bari said that the civil society’s role was disappointing in the case.

Sharing her views on the matter, she said that initially eight people had been nominated in the First Information Report (FIR) after they had confessed to killing the girls. She also criticised the last two such commissions for failing to do justice with the case.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019