DERA GHAZI KHAN: Border Military Police Khadr Buzdar arrested five members of a jirga and registered a case against 10 for forcing two brothers to walk on burning coals to prove their innocence near Tuman Buzdar area of tehsil Takht Sulaiman on the boundary of Punjab and Balochistan.

A couple of days earlier a jirga was held at near Tuman Buzdar to decide on responsibility of a theft case or to get proof of innocence of two suspected thieves (brothers), Gul and Zaman, by holding centuries old inhuman ceremony of Aas Aaf (Aas mean fire and Aaf means water), involving a walk on burning coals. Both the brothers could not walk properly on burning coals.

A video of the incident went viral which led Punjab Chief Minister Usman Khan Buzdar taking notice of it and directing the police to arrest those responsible for holding of the event.

Aas Aaf is a part of ancient tribal judicial system of the Baloch people in which a suspect walks on burning coals or has a long dip into water to confirm his/her innocence. If one successfully crosses the burning coals or remains under water for a certain time, it means he/she is innocent; otherwise, punishment is given in form of fine or exile.

Fire walking dates back to Iron Age India (1200BC). Cultures from Greece to China used fire walking for different reasons in ancient times but the practice was left gradually as times changed.

Commenting on the ritual, Balochi language poet and member of Dera Ghazi Khan District Bar Association Allah Bakhsh Buzdar told Dawn the existence of such primitive practice of the tribal judicial system showed that modern judicial system was not functioning properly in the remote mountainous tribal societies of Punjab.

Political assistant, assistant commissioner of Takht Sulaiman and commander of border military police Syed Musa Raza said five out of 10 nominated suspects had been arrested and they would be produced before the court concerned for further proceedings.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2019