Khadija Siddiqi, a Pakistani student of law who was stabbed in the neck 23 times, awaits for justice
Tehmina Durrani, an Internationally acclaimed Pakistani social worker stands by the victim:
BY KASWAR KLASRA / LAHORE
May 3, 2017, was meant to be a usual day for Lahore based family of Khadija Siddiqui, a student of law. Each member of family was busy in routine work until head of family recieved a telephone call in the afternoon.
“Your daughter has been rushed to Services Hospital in critical condition. She is bleeding severely,” caller said before the phone went dead.
Mr Ahmed Siddqi, 50, then rushed from office to hospital in a desperate bid to find his daughter who had been taken to hospital.
Moments later, victim’s family members, friends and class fellows reached the hospital. They were all shocked and terrified.
Inside operation theater, a team of doctors was busy to save victim’s life. Operation lasted for hours and remained succesful. Khadija was stabbed 23 times on her chest and neck. However, the lucky girl survived brutal attack somehow.
Attacker was identified as Shah Hussain, son of Lahore based renowned Lawyer Tanvir Hashmi. Reportedly, the attacker was chasing her and attacked when she was about to sit in the car outside the school where she went to pick her younger sister Sophia who also received wounds.
It all happened in the heart of Lahore, capital city of Punjab province ruled by Mian Shahbaz Sharif, a personal friend of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey.
According to Dawn, Pakistan’s prestige daily newspaper, a murder case was filed in Lahore High Court (LHC) within a week of the attack. Evidence was presented before the judiciary, including video footage which helped identify the attacker.
However, LHC had dismissed pre-arrest bail of the suspect in September 2016 while a sessions court granted him post-arrest bail after two months.
A year has passed, and she is still waiting for justice. Ironically, her attacker is roaming freely.
Khadija was lucky enough to get get support from ‘ Tehmina Durrani Foundation ( TDF)’, one of Pakistan’s leading charity organization headquartered in Lahore.
Backed by TDF, Khadija has not only vowed to fight for justice, but also inspiring young girls of Pakistan.
Tehmina Durrani, Pakistan’s renowned social worker and the founder of TDF, confirmed to Times of Turkey that her organization is taking care of victim of brutal attack.
“She is at TDF. We are not only taking care of her but provided her lawyer to fight her case in court,” Tehmina Durrani told Times of Turkey.
Khadija Siddiqi speaks to Times of Turkey:
TIMES OF TURKEY: What exactly happened to you last year? Who rushed you to hospital? how long you remain under treatment.?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: May 3, 2017, was a normal day for me, I picked my sister Sofia from school and made her board the car, as I was about to make my way in, a ruthless creature clad in a helmet with lethal intentions pounced on me. In the blink of an eye I was propelled upon the backseat with enormous force compounded by uninterrupted gashes, not twice or thrice but 23 times brutally leaving no stone unturned whilst attacking. He kept lacerating me till I was immersed in blood. I lay lifeless on the middle of Davis road being declared dead by the bevy of men surrounding me. Sofia aged 6 whom I had just picked from school, shouted in despair failing in an attempt to rescue me trying to protect me with her tiny hands, but in vain she was stabbed too.
A few minutes prior to this hapless incident I was rote learning the tort law cases as my final exam was just 3 days away .Little did I know I’d be battling death the next moment, such an unanticipated twist of fate indeed. It felt as if life had ended as i heard a little agonizing voice ‘Deej are you alright?’ My eyes opened trying to reciprocate I raised my blood smeared hand wanting to reassure her but couldn’t utter a word. My driver quickly rushed us to the nearest hospital.
My fight for life had just begun. Those awfully tormenting days in the hospital, when I couldn’t eat or speak but just perpetually moaned for pain Killer dozes, the endless hours under anesthetics undergoing several surgeries, the 10 bottles of blood I lost, the 200 stitches , my Paralyzed body. I stayed on the hospital bed for around 2 weeks but then again when I returned home my visits to the doctors for opening of my stitches and further medication didn’t end.
TIMES OF TURKEY: Did the government approach you post-attack?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: No one did, rather I tried using various forums to get support.. but all in vain
TIMES OF TURKEY: Which type of threats did you get from accused family?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: The accused’s father is from the legal fraternity so they would pressurize us to withdraw from case. They said they knew each and every aspect of the law so it was very easy for them to get away with it by using pressure tactics and delaying mechanisms. And since I’m part of a patriarchal society, they also did Character assassination. In short the whole year had been in struggle to get justice from the same fraternity to which the criminal‘s family belonged. On every court hearing they would threat us to give up the case or as a consequence they would drag the case for years without any fruitful results.
TIMES OF TURKEY: Was the police helpful? Did the police register case on merit?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: Yes the police registered the FIR the same day and the relevant provisions of Pakistan Penal code were applied. [as far as I understand]
TIMES OF TURKEY: When did Tehmina Durrani reach out to you? Was she helpful?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: I met her on Fakhra younus vigil at liberty round about on 17 march and since that day she has been a source of perpetual support. This iron lady is my mentor and she continuously lifted my shattered morale and treated me like her own daughter. I’m really lucky to have her support. She has also provided me with security in this crucial time of my law exams where the attacker was supposed to appear in the same exams as mine under the same roof. She was there when no one could hear me. TDF shall rise and flourish and I am determined to stand by her in making Pakistan a social welfare state.
TIMES OF TURKEY: Are you provided with security? If yes who did the needful?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: Yes im provided with full security for my exams and its only due to the efforts of T khala, She always tells me that my safety is now her responsibility. She is a super woman and is my mentor.
TIMES OF TURKEY: Please express your feelings in few lines when you got to know you attacker and yourself were giving exam under same roof. Do not you think it’s flaw in system which allowed the accused to sit besides you exam?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: When I got know about this I felt as if my nation has failed me, it was allowing a criminal to become a lawyer. I believe had the opponents not been backed by the judiciary, it wouldn’t have been such a tough battle. There are flaws in our system but they are not so extensive that despite clear evidences a criminal is allowed to roam freely while the victim can’t have peaceful night’s sleep
TIMES OF TURKEY: Do you expect the courts to deliver Justice on merit in your case?
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: Justice delayed is justice denied. I’m very hopeful, had I listened to everyone around me who told me that justice is never served in Pakistan I would’ve given up way before ive come this far with the hope that justice shall prevail. Lack of punishment for such criminals would mean opening the gateway to commit crimes and escape criminal liability by using their extra-legal influence. I want this case to set an example that no one can escape punishment. I stand for all the female victims that YES WE HAVE HOPE!!
TIMES OF TURKEY: Any message to the women in Pakistan
KHADIJA SIDDIQI: As a fellow sister, I have a message for the women of this Nation. Do not take in stride any injustice that is directed towards you. Be it from the people around you or the state. Our faith also obligates us to challenge injustice while taking a stand to counter it. At the same time I do not encourage violence against violence but instead, ask of you to utilize your strengths and vitality. Never give up and follow through the path of truth, self-respect, and justice. I ask of you to support each other to create a force that is willing and ready to withstand any storm that may try to sweep it away. This is a need that must come to par for the betterment of the future of our country, its people, and next generations. We must design and build a platform of justice so no woman ever again has to face prejudice and discrimination at the hands of the law and patriarchal institutions. I have no doubts regarding the abilities, courage, and bounds of vigor alive within the women of Pakistan. You always were, and still are the backbone of this Nation. (By Kaswar Klasra / Times of Turkey / Lahore)