By Amjad Ali
Nothia, Pakistan, May 27 (EFE).- Horror and fear prevails in a small village in Pakistan’s Punjab province where two sisters were deceived into returning home from Spain, and murdered last week by their family members in the name of protecting their honor.
The act was allegedly perpetrated by the brothers and husbands of the two girls for seeking divorce and wanting to remarry men of their choice, something that would supposedly bring dishonor to the families of the girls in their conservative patriarchal society.
The house where Aneesa Abbas, 21, and Arooj Abbas, 24, were killed lay abandoned except for a dog, rabbits, fowls and caged parrots that were inside.
Dried blood stains could still be seen inside. Locals stay clear of the place due the horrifying atmosphere that prevails around it.
Both sisters, living in Spain, had been married against their wishes – Arooj to her father’s sister’s son, Hassan, in 2019; and Aneesa to her father’s brother’s son, Atiq ur Rehman, in 2020.
Neighbors said there was an argument between the ill-fated sisters and their in-laws over accepting their husbands and taking them along to Spain, which both refused to do.
“Their in-laws also objected to how they started to dress after moving to Spain,” a village elder, who asked not to be named over fears of developing enmity with the accused family, told EFE.
On May 20, a day after returning from Spain, the two women were beaten and tortured before being strangled to death in the evening at around 7:30pm.
Pictures taken by neighbors when the police arrived, and which were accessed by EFE, showed Aneesa lying dead on the floor with a scarf around her neck, while Arooj’s body lay on a traditional cot inside a messed-up room.
“I was on a call in the street and saw Aneesa come out of her house screaming, ‘help, help,'” Rehman Sohail, a 25-year old man from the neighborhood, told EFE.
Sohail said he moved ahead to help Aneesa but was stopped by her brother, Shehryar, who carrying a pistol and had grabbed the girl by her hair.
“He said, ‘stay away otherwise I will shoot you, it’s our family matter'” Sohail said. “Shehryar then dragged her into the house by her foot.”
“I would have saved her if I knew they would kill her, no one even kills animals like they did,” added Sohail.
The village elder said this was the first such brutal incident in the locality in recent history, and had terrified everyone, specially children. The atmosphere of the whole village had turned gloomy.
He added that all the immediate neighbors heard the girls’ screams that evening but did not come forward to save them as interfering in other people’s matters usually leads to bad blood.
“Our ancestors tell us no one had been murdered here before,” he recalled. “It will haunt us forever, no one slept that night.”
He revealed that no one from the families of the two sisters had offered their funeral prayers as they were all hiding from the police.
Now, a group of youngsters from the area has been planning to hold “Qul Khawani,” a common religious practice of collective recitation from the Quran – the Islamic holy book – praying for forgiveness of the departed souls.
The police said that the accused in the twin murder case would be tried in court with the state being the complainant, meaning the legal heirs of the victims cannot pardon the accused, which is otherwise permissible under Pakistani law.