Body formed to see whether jirga was held to save convict in rape, murder case – 13 Feb 2023

MITHI: The Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Human Rights, Surendar Valasai, has constituted a three-member fact-finding committee amid reports and claims that a jirga (tribal court) had been con-vened to force the family of a rape victim to pardon the influential figure, who has already been convicted.

The girl, Leelan Meghawar, was subjected to rape by the influential figure, Koonpji Thakur, and had committed suicide in Koonrul village of Tharparkar district several years ago. The case was decided in Sept 2021 and the Thakur was jailed for 24 years. He was also ordered to pay a fine/compensation of Rs9.4 million.

On Saturday, some reports in the mainstream and social media suggested that the Thakur family had convened a jirga where the family and close relatives ofLeelan Meghawar were called and allegedly forced to agree on pardoning Koonpji Thakur so that he could be saved from suffering the remaining jail term.

Taking notice of such reports, CM`s aide Mr Valasai on Sunday formed a fact-finding committee comprising his department`s vigilance committee members Kashif Bajeer Noorjehan Gahelro and Advocate Paryal Marri. Headed by Mr Bajeer, the committee will visit Koonrul village and see whether the jirga was held and whether the family was forced to agree on a settlement as alleged. The committee will also meet Leelan Meghawar`s family, elders andmembers of her community, local journalists and the local officials concerned to accomplish its fact-finding task.

It will submit its report to the department concerned.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, the Sindh Human Rights Department has said that holding of a jirga to save convicted criminals is a matter of serious concern.

The statement noted that court had convicted the man [Thakur] in the Leelan Meghawar rape and murder case. `It is also a fact that the family of the innocent girl, who was a victim of cruelty, is extremely poor. In this case, it needs to be seen that the victim`sfamily was persuaded or threatened to pardon the convict. The human rights department, under its mandate, will ensure justice with the blood of the victim…` it added.

According to Mr Valasai, such jirgas lead to a surge in the trend of crime against women and the vulnerable in society, therefore, violation of human rights and law in the name of jirgas cannot be tolerated.

`The Sindh government has an unshakable determination not to be a victim of any expediency on the issue of rights and protection of the poor and vulnerable segments of society, said Mr Valasai.

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