A woman, who was allegedly tortured and burnt by in-laws in Nowshera district last month, died at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad on Wednesday morning.
The burns victim was later buried in the ancestral village, Dagi Jadeed, in Nowshera after funeral.
While her relatives were optimistic about improvement of her health during the last couple of days, the woman’s condition deteriorated on Tuesday and therefore, she was shifted to the PIMS Intensive Care Unit.
“We’re hopeful that she would survive seeing improvement of her condition during the last couple of days. However, she began facing breathing problem yesterday and could not survive,” said Zahoor Khan, a brother of the deceased woman.
Local court puts off hearing into pre-arrest bail pleas of suspects due to death
Married to Rahat Sher around nine years ago, the woman, who was around 28, was having four children. The younger one is a 10 months old baby girl.
The incident took place on Dec 18, while its FIR was registered on Dec 23 at the relevant Azakhel police station in Nowshera.
The case was registered on the basis of statement recorded by the burns victim after she gained consciousness at the Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar, where she was under treatment at that time. She was shifted to PIMS on Dec 31.
The relevant police investigation officer, Akhtar Hussain Khan, told Dawn that Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code had been included in the FIR of the case.
Initially, the suspects were charged under sections 114 (presence of abettor when offence is committed), 147 (rioting) and 336-B (causing hurt by use of corrosive substance) of the PPC.
Eight people named in the FIR including two women have been given the interim pre-arrest bail due to which they weren’t arrested by the police.
Their pre-arrest bail petitions were fixed for hearing by an additional district and sessions judge in Nowshera on Wednesday. However, it was adjourned to Jan 19 after the court learned about the woman’s death.
Zahoor said the family came to know about the burning incident from one of their acquaintances based in Azakhel, where his sister, too, lived. “We’re supported by some social activists in the treatment of our sister in Islamabad, but she lost the struggle for life despite good medical treatment. Before death, she was constantly asking about her children and was worried about how they would have been living without her and whether they would have been given food by someone,” he said.
The suspects had allegedly tortured the woman before dousing her in petrol and set her on fire.
“For the last three years, in-laws had banned us from visiting her. We were aware that she had been a victim of the worst kind of domestic violence by husband and in-laws,” said Zahoor.
He said his sister was a graduate and had also done PTC (primary teaching certificate) course, whereas her husband was uneducated.
After the burns victim gained consciousness, she had told her family members and journalists that her brother-in-law, Shah Zaib, and his wife, Zainab, used to quarrel with her on petty domestic issues.
She had claimed that on Dec 16, Shah Zaib and Zainab had severely beaten her causing injuries on different parts of her face after which she went to the Azakhel police station to lodge a complaint against them.
The woman had added that the police officials sent her to the Pabbi Satellite Hospital, where the doctor treated her for injuries.
“When I returned and my husband returned from daily work he also thrashed me saying why I had lodged complaint against his brother at the police station,” she said.
The woman had also insisted two days later, she saw that two paternal uncles of Zainab, named Anwar and Siraj, and her brother Asad, come to their residence after which her in-laws asked her to come downstairs from her room.
She alleged that her father-in-law, Reham Sher, her mother-in-law, Khyal Bibi, Rahat, Zainab and Shah Zaib, then started beating her after which Anwer, Siraj and Asad poured petrol on her and set her on fire due to which she went unconscious.
“With the support of the Acid Survivors Foundation, we tried our best but unfortunately, we lost the struggle for survival of the woman,” said Qamar Naseem, head of Blue Veins, which works on violence against women.
He said the burns victim’s death had again brought to focus the non-implementation of law on domestic violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.