The husband of the pregnant singer who was killed in Larkana, Ashiq Samoo, said he was sitting behind his wife when she was shot. According to him, SHO Liaquat Ali was also present at the event.
People at the event said Samina Sindhu was singing a song when 22-year-old Tariq Jatoi shot her thrice. The singer, who was pregnant with her first child, was taken to the Chandka Hospital. Doctors said she was dead on arrival.
Footage on social media shows how some men approach the stage on which the woman was seated and singing. The men can be seen throwing money at her and speaking to her. The woman continues singing and rises to stand. The shooting happens and she falls on the stage.
Tariq Jatoi, the main suspect accused of killing Samina Sindhu, was presented at a court. A seven-day physical custody of Jatoi was granted by the court.
Killed over refusal
Her husband told SAMAA that the couple had gone to perform at the aqeeqa ceremony of the sons of Niaz Junejo, the reader of a sessions court judge. They earned their living through such performances – Samina would sing and Ashiq would play the harmonium.
“Niaz asked my wife to stand while singing and also dance,” he said. “She was pregnant and said she couldn’t dance. She rose to stand up and continued singing. In the meantime, Niaz, who was inebriated, provoked his friend, Tariq Jatoi by saying that he just sat and watched while Samina refused his demand.”
According to Ashiq, Tariq opened fire then and a bullet pierced through her body. “Some of us took Samina to the hospital,” he said. “The police beat up the other musicians of our team who had been left behind and also snatched Rs35,000 from them.”
Under the police’s nose
Ashiq said the venue of event was right behind the Kanga police station.
“SHO Liaquat Ali, who had drunk so much that he wasn’t in his senses, was present at the event,” he said. “We sat in front of the SP’s office at 2am with the body as no one listened. The next day, we sat in front of the press club.” According to him, SSP Tanveer Tunio suspended the SHO only after media reports compelled the Sindh IG to take notice of the incident.
Initially, the Kanga police described the shooting as an ‘accident’ and refused to register a case. However, after media reports, an FIR was registered on the orders of SSP Tanveer Tunio. Jatoi was then arrested and the SHO was suspended for refusal to register an FIR.
The case was registered on behalf of her husband under Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code against Jatoi and two unidentified men. Jatoi will be presented before a court today (Thursday).
“I told them about Niaz Junejo while recording my statement,” said Ashiq. “But they didn’t include his name in the FIR.” According to him, even Tariq told the police about how Niaz provoked him but the police ignored the information due to his ‘strong backing’.
Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Sial said he had ordered the police to register a case against the suspected shooter. “We have sent the murder weapon for forensic examination,” he said.
Samina’s killing sparked reactions. The footage of the shooting went viral on social media as well.
Javed Brohi, an officer-bearer of Sindh Fankaar Welfare Trust, demanded justice for the family. “Artists who spread happiness among the people are getting dead bodies in return,” he said.
Writer Amar Sindhu wrote on Facebook that Samina was killed at the aqeeqa ceremony of a court reader’s sons. “She was asked to stand and dance while singing,” Amar wrote. “She said she was eight months pregnant and it was difficult for her to stand.”
According to Amar, she was issued death threats. “She tried to get up when a bullet pierced through her body.”
The rights activist further wrote that she wants to curse those killers who try to cover their crimes by invoking their Sindhi ethnicity. “Even the educated civil society of Sindh complains of Urdu media’s prejudice when Shahrukh Jatoi is called a killer,” she wrote.
Imagine the poverty that a six months pregnant is compelled to sing for drunk waderaas, imagine the monsters who still force that six months pregnant to dance for them, and shoot to kill when she refuses. Imagine the corrupt Police, forcing husband to withdraw case#SaminaSindhu
— Shama Junejo (@ShamaJunejo) April 11, 2018
Stage performers under attack
On February 3, a Mardan stage and drama artiste, Sumbal, was shot dead by three men in her house after she refused to come with them for a performance. In March, stage actor and dancer Sitara Baig said seven men raped her at a five star hotel in Lahore but the police wouldn’t register a case. Sitara and her sister, Kismat Baig, were considered among the highest paid stage dancers in Lahore. In 2015, unidentified men shot Kismat and her bodyguard, Ali. They were taken to a hospital, where Kismat breathed her last. Ali told the media that before opening fire, the attackers said, “We’ll hurt you so bad that you’ll never be able to dance again.”
Transgender performers not human?
Stage performers have little protection in Pakistan. Transgender performers face even worse discrimination. Aish Khan, a transgender performer based in Karachi, told SAMAA that men get drunk at most of the functions.
“I used to perform at all-men gatherings but have stopped that because I have been assaulted four times,” she said. “The men consider us their private property and do not respect our choices. Now, I just perform at family functions.”
Performers are ill-treated if they say no. “Men at a DHA event shaved the eyebrows of my friend, Payal, just to humiliate her,” she said. “Our community protested and the police arrested him, only to let him off in a few hours. I saw him again at a function in Baldia and he asked me to meet him alone. When I said no, he told me that he’ll kidnap me on my way.”
Aish said men do not consider them humans. “We are humans and we get tired after continuous performance from 12am to 5am,” she said. “If I want to sit and rest for a while, they get furious.”
Story first published: 12th April 2018