Pakistan police have arrested the father and a cousin of Samia Shahid, a British woman who was allegedly murdered for “honour” in her ancestral village last week.
Local media reports said Chaudhry Shahid and Chaudhry Mubeen were being interrogated after their arrest.
Chaudhry Shakeel, the deceased woman’s cousin and first husband is on the run ever since the complaint was registered by the police on Saturday.
Initially the family members had maintained that Samia had died of natural causes.
Her present husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam had claimed that a relative from Bradford in Northern England had conveyed to him that she “died of heart attack”.
Amid mounting pressure the police have formed a special team to investigate the complaint filed by Kazam claiming that Samia was killed by her relatives on 20 July.
Kazam has alleged that Samia who was living with him in Dubai after their wedding two years ago, was tricked into traveling to Pakistan, earlier this month by her family, saying that her father was ailing.
After her arrival in Pakistan, she had reportedly told Kazam that her father was fine, but her life was in danger.
He said there were no response to his calls or messages after Samia said she was going to visit Shakeel on 20 July.
Samia, who was working as a beauty therapist in Bradford had divorced Shakeel and married Kazam at a civil ceremony in Leeds in 2014.
Kazam alleges that the family had not accepted their marriage to an “outsider” of a different sect and was constantly trying to lure her to Pakistan on some pretext or the other.
Local police officials had claimed that a post mortem was conducted before the 28 year old was buried in Pandori village, some 80 kilometres from capital Islamabad. The forensic report is awaited.
Samia’s father who had earlier claimed that it was a natural death has now confessed that he had found his daughter dead at Shakeel’s house on 20 July. He also said there was vomit around her mouth.
A large number of police officials and intelligence agents have now landed at Pandora village after the case gained international attention. British authorities are also inquiring about the woman died.
British MP Naz Shah who represents Bradford West had written to Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking a fair probe in the matter.
“This case does fit that classic picture and circumstances of “honour killing,” Naz Shah had said in her letter to Sharif.
She also demanded that the body be exhumed and an independent autopsy be conducted.
Two persons have been arrested by West Yorkshire police for allegedly threatening the lawmaker, after she demanded a second autopsy.
Three of Samia’s friends in Bradford had confirmed to the ‘Guardian‘ that she was being harassed by some members of the family for having converted from Sunni to Shia sect to marry Kazam. They also said a family member was warned by the police last September.
Investigations by senior police officials have now revealed that there were bruises on Samia’s neck and shoulders of the victim. This contradicts the statement given initially by the family members and the local police.
Samia’s alleged “honour killing” comes barely ten days after the slaying of Qandeel Baloch.
The model and social media star was strangled by her brother at her ancestral home on the outskirts of the central city of Multan. A cousin has has also surrendered to police, after they started looking for the murderer’s accomplices.
Qandeel had come to her family home to celebrate Eid. She had earlier said that she was mulling to go migrate to a foreign country after the government did not heed to her plea for providing security cover. The 25 year old had said she was receiving threats after she posted a selfie with a powerful Muslim cleric.
The shock and revulsion after Qandeel’s murder helped fast forward a legislation against a legal loophole which allows family members of the victims to pardon the perpetrators of “honour killing”.
The Bill which was approved by a parliamentary panel is now awaiting parliamentary nod.
Statistics complied by Honour Based Violence Awareness Network show that at least a 1,000 women are killed every year in the name of “family honour” in Pakistan. The numbers of “honour killing and gender violence are the same in neighbouring India too.
Most of these are in response to the women choosing a spouse or defying their parents and eloping with her loved one.