The town of Thathri in Doda district saw massive protests and a complete shutdown on Saturday, with people blocking the Doda-Batote road following the mystery death of a pregnant woman. The protesters alleged that the victim, Shaista Begum, 23, was killed by her in-laws.
Shaista Begum was charred to death under suspicious circumstances in a fire that broke out in her house on Friday night. Following public unrest, the police arrested her husband, Abdul Hamid, father-in-law Khursheed Malik and brother-in-law Azhar Malik on murder charges.
While the police said the matter is under investigation, locals suspect foul play since the deceased had lodged a police complaint of domestic violence against her in-laws only two days before her death. Shaista Begum and Abdul Hamid had married two years ago.
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Stating that the organisation Anjuman-e-Islamia had called for bandh, locals said the circumstances of her death seem suspicious — while Shaista Begum was burnt to death, all others in the house escaped unhurt. Moreover, they said, the deceased was rushed to hospital by neighbours, and not her in-laws.
“Our protest is to show solidarity with parents and relatives of the deceased, who have come from Bounjwan,” said Sajjad Wani, a protester, alleging that the young woman was killed.
The blockade continued till afternoon, creating a bottleneck. The protesters withdrew the hold-up only after senior police officers reached the spot and assured them of action against the accused.