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ICC (02/21/06) – On December 31st, 2005, Shiraz Joel (a 23-year-old Christian) was found dead with his Muslim girlfriend, Saira Idrees, adjacent to the street where they lived.

Shiraz ‘s family has been living as with the Christian minority in a Muslim community of Rawalpindi . The boy’s family alleged that the girl’s father conspired to murder Shiraz and Saira due to their “dishonorable” love relationship according to Islamic teaching. The girl’s father belongs to a political party, and his party associates threatened the boy’s family if they registered a murder case against the girl’s father. Due to the threat, Shiraz ‘s father agreed to give up the case, and his family is still threatened from further danger and attack.

Investigation:

On January 19th of 2006, a fact-finding team visited the residence of the victim and interviewed the Joel family. According to Mr. Joel Joseph (Father of the deceased), on the 31st of December, 2005, while Joseph was getting ready to take a morning walk at 5 a.m., two of his neighbors (Mr. and Mrs. Zakia) came to his house and informed him that two dead bodies were lying on the street, about 25 meters away from the house. Joseph rushed to the scene, and found his son Shiraz and a girl (Saira) with a pistol on the ground. Both dead bodies showed marks of a gun shot to their heads. At that time, he had no knowledge of who the girl was. His families and neighbors followed him to the scene and they told him that Saira was Shiraz ‘s girlfriend who lived in the neighborhood.

Then, Saira’s father (Babu Mohammad Adrees, who had contested Elections for Nazim from the platform of Pakistan People’s Party {PPP}) appeared and cried over the girl but started kicking Shiraz ‘s dead body and slapped Joseph’s face. Upon police arrival, Joseph returned home to take care of his sick mother. The Senior Superintendent of Police came and took the bodies for post mortem examination. At 10:30 a.m., after receiving a call from the Civil Hospital at Raja Bazar, Joseph departed to the hospital with his cousins. Upon arrival, Chaudhry Muohlaq and Bashi Khan (former MNA and present MPA) who were also from PPP greeted Joseph. Then, Agha Riaz Uslam, another PPP member, led him to a room. In the room, some other people asked him about the incident.

Joseph told them what he knew, and he told police the same story.

Then, partisans of the PPP told him not to register any case against girl’s family, and they threatened that if he pursued the case, then they would also bring case against his family. Joseph was under great pressure with safety concerns for wife and children, thus he agreed to acknowledge that his son committed suicide. The conversation was recorded by the investigating officer. Journalists came to interview him but PPP members commanded him not to speak to the journalists. Later, Joseph also found out that police never conducted a post mortem.

The dead body was brought back home at 6:30 p.m. Subsequently, three people from Zahat Committee (Muhammad Azam, Shazad Khan and Ehangez Khan) came and asked Joseph not to arrange the funeral ceremony at home. Since the deceased girl’s house was in the vicinity, the boy’s funeral could enrage her family or other Muslims. As a result, the funeral was arranged in Joseph’s uncle’s house.

Conclusion:

This case can be categorized as ‘Honor Killing.’ It is a form of murder which is carried out due to the victim’s behavior or action contrary or disgraceful to Islamic teachings. Saira belonged to a high status Muslim family, while Shiraz was a Christian minority. The girl’s father regarded his daughter disgraceful for having relationship with a Christian boy. Therefore, they killed both the boy and the girl. According to Joseph’s testimony, the girl was shot on the forehead but the boy was shot on the back of the head. In a suicide case, it is quite impossible to shoot oneself from behind. In addition, despite the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the neighborhood, nobody heard a gun shot. It is most likely that murder was committed in some other place and the dead bodies were moved back to the neighborhood.

From the interview, the fact-finding team concluded that the boy was murdered by the conspiracy of the girl’s father, and this case can be successfully registered against him. However, Joseph’s family is reluctant to register the case because they are threatened and afraid of the consequences of having a clash with Muslims. Joseph is more concerned with further attacks and is thus seeking protection from various sources.