Kot Addu: On the 25th of February, a hastily dug grave in the middle of a crop field was unearthed by a heartbroken husband and men in uniform. Within the grave lay the body of a 21 year old woman, her arms wrapped in embrace of a 40 day old infant. Aimen and her child, Hussain Ali, were not given the luxury to die painless deaths.

Aimen was shot to death by her brothers, Awais and Farooq, for marrying Mukhtiar Hussain of her own accord roughly a year ago. Her decision had left an egregious stain on their “honour” and the brothers resolved to brutally destroy two innocent lives in order to restore it.

The incident occurred in Kot Addu, a subdivision of Muzaffargarh, where Aimen was living with her in-laws after the birth of her child. Mukhtiar, a cook by profession, was stationed in another city.

Aimen was fearful for her life after her marriage. But when she bore a healthy baby boy, she began to nurse hopes that her brothers’ hearts would melt upon seeing the child. She cherished dreams of mending their relationship and being accepted by her flesh-and-blood. However, on the night of February 9th, Aimen’s worst fears were realized when Awais and Farooq arrived at her doorstep, strapped with weapons, and abducted both mother and child.

“Those two grabbed my daughter-in-law. I ran into the room where the child lay sleeping under a blanket. I had hoped they would at least leave the baby alone but they snatched my grandson right out from the blanket and dangled him from their hands. He was not wearing anything warm,” Sughra Bibi, Aimen’s mother-in-law, recalled the fateful night the girl and her newborn son were ripped away from her.

“I desperately called after them, I demanded to know what they were going to do him. They said they were taking him with them. My precious grandson was a month and 6 days old. My daughter-in-law tried to give the child milk but (the kidnappers) knocked the bottle out of her hand.”

That night, Aimen’s brothers took her and Hussain Ali to their crop fields in Alipur. Aimen was shot twice – one bullet piercing her gut and the other her eye. They bashed the newborn against the ground, dumped him together with his mother into a pit and poured earth over the two.

“(Awais and Farooq) shot her twice, in her eye and stomach,” explained Tariq, Aimen’s brother-in-law. “They first swung the baby and whacked him on the ground. Then they strangled him. They say that they couldn’t tell if the child was still alive by then…”

“They dug a pit and, they said, the mother was still breathing so they quickly tossed her into the ditch and buried her.”

Awais and Farooq were apprehended by police 18 days after Aimen and Hussain Ali’s execution, and revealed the exact location of the grave.

“They have uprooted our lives, they destroyed our peace,” lamented Sughra Bibi. “My daughter-in-law and grandson were possibly alive when (the brothers) buried them because when my son retrieved the corpses, my daughter-in-law was clutching her baby against her bosom. The dead cannot do such a thing, they stay the same where the lie.”

“My son retrieved the bodies that lay under the earth for 18 whole days, God knows what suffering they had to bear. My son brought his innocent child in pieces in a box. I want justice and nothing else.”

Aimen’s grief-stricken husband, Mukhtiar Hussain, has resolved to go to any and all extents to ensure that the two responsible for destroying his life and happiness be punished.

“I dug out my wife and child’s bodies myself so I could burn in my memory what (Awais and Farooq) had done to them,” he said in between long and forlorn pauses. “Only I know in what circumstances I recovered them. When I took my son’s hand, it came out right in my palm.”

The police have included honour-killing charges in the FIR that had been lodged immediately after Aimen and Hussain Ali’s abduction.

“This is an honour-killing, the girl was killed in the name of honour,” stated SDPO Kot Addu Ejaz Bukhari. “Section 311 of the PPC, which penalises crimes committed in the name of honour, has been charged against the accused in this case.”

We are doing everything in our power to ensure that investigation and all proceedings are carried out in full; I am personally supervising the investigation. Considering the injustice done to Mukhtiar, and the way his wife and child were butchered, a settlement cannot and should not be arranged.”

According to the police, Aimen’s brothers and killers, Awais and Farooq were known criminals and have been charged for grave offences in nearly 10 separate FIRs.

The accused claim they had killed their sister for marrying out of love.

“We killed her for honour, there was no other reason. She had a love marriage and left, that’s why we killed her,” Awais asserted.

“This is not honour,” decried Sughra Bibi. “Honour would have been if they took their sister with them and talked it out with her, told her that she made a mistake and they forgave her. Have they not made any mistakes themselves? They have 20 or so criminal charges against them; when they were out looting and burgling, what about their honour then? Why did they demand honour when it concerned my daughter-in-law? They have destroyed my peace and ruined their lives as well – they will not be saved, my grandson’s curses be upon them.”

Report by Ahmed Saeed