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Noor Is No More With Us!

Even the title of the article may somewhat resuscitate the grief of Noor Mukaddam’s parents and siblings. How will they reconcile with such an enormous and tragic loss?

They had long 27 years to enjoy her giggles and endearing hugs; watched her crawling and taking her first step to walk – falling and getting up in her bid to be on her feet; they saw her growing from a toddler into an elegant, enlightened and self-possessed youngster who wanted to make a life and career of her choice.

She loved to fight for women’s emancipation and their rights as equal citizens of this country.

Though entrusted to the bosom of mother earth, she must be beckoning from amongst a choir of angels in the heavens to her parents, siblings, friends and, indeed, to us all with her usual brightness of eyes and sweetness of smile telling us to carry forward her battle against the dark and toxic souls, apathy of society, patriarchal inhumanity, misogynist brutality and the rotting tribal mentality.

A dark and brutal soul cut short Noor’s life.

Her death has once more phenomenally laid bare the ugly face of our patriarchal society, and the pathetic situation of our law enforcement, prosecution and judicial justice.

In practice, we have two distinct sets of law, two scales of justice for wealthy elite and the underprivileged. The corruption of police and the staggering cost involved in judicial proceedings have rendered justice inaccessible for the common man. The state has utterly failed to protect the life, property and honour of its citizens.

The blood of the poor is spilled; their property vandalised and honour trampled with impunity. The daughters of the nation have borne the brunt of the brutality perpetrated by their heartless relatives, blackmailers, killers, sadists, shameless elite.

In the name of honour, girls are axed to death, stripped naked and paraded in bazars in front of disinterested spectators and even thrown to ferocious hounds to have slow and excruciating death to the ridicule of law and justice.

This is the society we have created over the past seven decades where we don’t tire of preaching the virtues of Islam and the Madina state. We have enough of empty words and hollow slogans. No more please. The Madina state was founded after thorough reformation of the society and prepared for the rule of law, equality before law and justice for all.

 

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That society was marked by piety, honesty, selflessness, sacrifice, forgiveness, affection, compassion where social equity and justice reigned supreme.

The moral health of our society and our crumbling governance structures don’t allow us to dream of Madina state. It is better to lower our aim to creating a society marked by civility, improved governance and the rule of law.

The grisly murder of Noor has thrown a formidable challenge to our society and its inept governing structures – police, investigation, prosecution and judiciary-confronting them with a litmus test. With the arrest of the perpetrator and the recovery of weapons from the scene of the heinous crime, the case is simple and straightforward.

The fear is that the roller coaster of the power and influence of wealthy elite can impede the course of law for an exemplary punishment to the murderer.

This fear is not misplaced. We have witnessed many an instance of exploitation of loopholes in our criminal laws and the evidence-based judicial system requiring eye witnesses by highly expensive and fully competent lawyers, who intimidate witnesses in cross examinations and sow doubts in the mind of the presiding judges.

Noor Mukaddam case

I recall the big names of Bar Council from Islamabad and Lahore pleading the innocence of Shah Rukh Jatoi. His case was also simple. The prosecution’s plea was that he was teasing the daughter of a serving police inspector accompanied by her brother, Shahzeb.

The brother had an altercation with Shah Rukh. The latter went to his car, took out his pistol and, accompanied by two friends, shot dead Shahzeb.

The wealthy father of the accused lost his battle in the judiciary. The young boy was handed down capital punishment. Later, the father of the deceased filed an application in the court forgiving Shah Rukh and withdrawing his case from Sindh High Court. After this application, the family of late Shahzeb disappeared from public view. Rumours swirled in the city for some time about their immigration to some other country.

The Sindh High Court granted bail to Shah Rukh and directed the lower court for his retrial. What transpired between late Shahzeb’s family and the powerful father of Shah Rukh Jatoi could be anybody’s wild conjecture.

However, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Justice Saqib Nisar, took a suo moto notice and reordered the arrest of Shah Rukh. This is the justice system we have to go through to get justice for our Noor. It has always remained vulnerable to manipulation by the wealthy and powerful.

Noor’s father howsoever determined he may be, cannot fight this battle all alone. His colleagues, friends, law abiding citizens, civil society will have to stand by him in his crusade to get justice for our slain daughter.

When the bad men combine, the good must associate (Edmund Burke).

It is not time for silence or expediency. Our message must be loud and clear if we want to see our vulnerable Noors safe from this patriarchal and misogynistic inhumanity.

As apparent from media reports, the role of the parents and servants and guards at the house of the murderer was also dubious in this heart rending episode.

The servants informed the parents of the messier situation in the second floor of the house with Noor crying for rescue. The CCTV footage shows the terrified Noor jumping from the second floor in a bid to save her life. She is caught and dragged again to the upper floor by the murderer.

They remain dumbfounded and paralysed.

The servants remained silent and the neighbours did nothing. Parents, when informed by terrified servants, instead of alerting police, contacted psychotherapists to see what was happening in their house. By the time the team of psychotherapists arrived, their son had already brutally murdered Noor.

What does the prosecution need more than this to prosecute them in the abetment of the heinous crime?

They deserve no sympathy. Their brutal son deserves the harshest punishment, and the parents, clear abettors in the crime, must languish in jail.

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