Pakistani police on Monday night exhumed the bodies of two women buried alive in the Baba Kot area of Nasirabad district last month. Investigations over the gory episode has at last started.
"Police opened up the grave pointed out by the arrested accused and two bodies were found," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ghulam Shabir Shiekh told Dawn newspaper.
Police cordoned off the area and arrested three people.
Sources said police opened up graves on indications given two of the arrested men -- Umaid Ali and Ghous Bakhsh Umrani. After some false starts, the team stumbled upon the right place and the grave was opened up in the presence of a magistrate and a team of lady doctors.
The victims were identified as Izzat Khatoon and Mai Siyani.
According to an initial medical report, the skull of one of the women was found broken and there were bullet wounds on the other body.
"The bodies were buried without shroud (Kafan) in one grave," the DIG said, adding that it appeared to be a case of "Karo Kari".
In Karo Kari disputes, the offenders are labeled "black man" (Karo) and "black woman" (Kari).
The term is applied to any person suspected of an act that brings shame to a family or tribe.
If the Kari's death is demanded, the primary approaches that are employed to enforce the sentence are stoning, shooting, burning, or axing.
In the alternative, a family member can maim her face. The Kari is held down and her nose, lips or ears are cut off or her face is severely lacerated. In some cases the Kari flees her accusers in order to seek sanctuary, often with a Pir (chieftain or spiritual leader). Although this act may preserve her life and visage, it is not unusual for the Kari to then be treated as a slave, sexually abused or sold at an auction by the Pir or individual with whom she sought sanctuary.
Mostly it is women who suffer. The man, even when implicated in a liaison, is rarely considered a partner in crime. Also it is the poor who suffer more under this barbaric practice, studies have pointed out.
"I am hopeful that other bodies would also be recovered," said DIG Shabir, who is heading the special investigation team. "Soon the mystery of the killing will be resolved and other people involved in it will be arrested."
"We cannot say anything about the number of victims till the completion of digging work," police sources said.
While the Asian Human Rights Commission says five women were buried that way, other accounts talk of only three. The other two involved escaped, it is claimed, but have not been traced so far.
A police team also visited Usta Mohammad town, from where the women were stated to have been taken away by armed men in a government vehicle.
According to the investigation, two girls and a woman had come to the town in the first week of July and stayed at a hotel near the house of Umaid Ali. The next day some armed men came to the hotel in a government-owned vehicle and whisked them away.
Sources said that Umaid Ali had told police during the interrogation that an influential tribal was involved in the kidnapping.
The Balochistan minister and deputy parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People's Party, Mir Sadiq Umrani, said that only two women, and not five, were murdered.
He told a press conference at his assembly chamber that Ata Mohammad Umrani, father of Izzat Khatoon, had named Umaid Ali and Ghous Bakhsh as his daughter's killers.
The PPP leader said his family had nothing to do with the incident and accused his rivals of launching a smear against him.
He said the Sibi DIG and DPOs of Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Bolan were investigating the matter and the federal government had also sent its team.
The Balochistan High Court granted on Monday time to police and the Human Rights Commission to submit their reports relating to the murders.
The hearing was adjourned to Sept 22.
The Chief Justice had taken suo motu notice of a newspaper report published on the July 13 killings.