Civil society wants ‘cult culture’ banished to prevent heinous crimes

Protest held against ‘routine’ torture, abuse of minor housemaids

HYDERABAD: Rights activists and members of civil society demanded justice for torture victim Fatima Furro at a demonstration outside the local press club on Sunday and called for an end to exploitative piri-mureedi culture, which gave rise to such inhuman incidents form time to time.

They accused Asad Shah of murdering his nine-year-old house maid after subjecting her to severe torture and demanded arrest of his wife, Hina Shah, who was co- accused in the case but police did not arrest her.

Amar Sindhu, representative of Women Action Forum (WAF), said that according to the girl’s post-mortem report no part of her body was without marks of violence. Severe punishment should be awarded to Asad Shah and his wife for showing such cruelty, she said.

Imdad Chandio said that jagirdars, waderas and sardars had surpassed all limits in committing excesses. Murder of innocent girls, women, children and journalists had become order of the day in Sindh, he said and urged intellectuals and rights activists to get unity and raise a strong voice against this cruelty. Intellectuals would have to play their role against pir, mureed’ and sardari culture in Sindh, he said.

Writer, Jami Chandio, said that Fatima’s incident was not only outcome of the inhuman attitude of an individual but it reflected anti-people, criminal and ugly mindset, which was a product of class and jagirdari system.

He said that it was incumbent upon every individual in Sindh to get rid of it, and demanded an end to this exploitative and cruel culture.

Leader of his own faction of Sindh Hari Committee, Samar Jatoi, accused Asad Shah of murdering Fatima after subjecting her to severe torture and added that his wife Hina Shah was co-accused in the case but she had not been arrested yet.

Advocate Mir Ahmed Mangrio said that Pirs had political patronage. Had there been PPP government, no inquiry would have been conducted and Asad Shah would have been protected. Such incidents took place routinely in these families, he said.

He regretted that assemblies and government passed laws to name hospitals and other public places after these Pirs. Courts had ruled that institutions could not be named after the persons who had not made any contribution to society but Sindh chief minister delivered a speech in the assembly against the judicial orders, he said.

He said that Pirs and Mirs had been backed over the past 15 years in Sindh. Protests must continue but people must think that they had to form a ‘political force’.

Journalist Iqbal Mallah wondered what position political parties had taken vis a vis such incidents. Sindh had become a ‘no-go area’ for ideology and political parties should review their policies before it was too late, he said.

Marvi Awan said that Fatima was subjected to forced labour which was banned under law. Many house maids were facing such cruelty but they avoided disclosing it out of fear losing the job or threats to their lives, she said.

Awami Workers Party leader Alia Bukshal Thallu said that jagirdars and waderas had made lives of the poor miserable. Women were routinely killed in Sindh but the present conditions were worse than dictatorship, he added.

The gathering adopted a number of resolutions, calling for registration of case against the policemen who were responsible for abetment in crime with Asad Shah and his wife, Hina Shah, who was allowed to go instead of being arrested, which was a crime.

Police should not accept pressure in this high profile case and conduct a transparent and honest investigation. Police should preserve the crime scene and provide protection to all the women working in Asad Shah’s house and record their statements to make them part of the case file. More relevant sections should be inserted in the FIR in the light of the post-mortem report and Fatima’s parents should be provided security, said another resolution.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2023

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