Four women and two men have been sentenced to death in northern Pakistan for allegedly singing and dancing together at a wedding, police said Monday.
The decree was issued after a mobile phone video emerged of the six at a recent reception in the remote Gada village in the mountainous district of Kohistan, 176 kilometers north of the capital Islamabad. The video appears to show the six celebrating the wedding in defiance of strict tribal customs that separate men and women at weddings.
“The local clerics issued a decree to kill all four women and two men shown in the video,” said district police officer Abdul Majeed Afridi. “It was decided that the men will be killed first, but they ran away so the women are safe for the moment. I have sent a team to rescue them and am waiting to hear some news,” he said, adding that the women had been confined to their homes.
Afridi said the events stemmed from a dispute between two tribes and that there was no evidence the men and women had been intermingling. “All of them were shown separately in the video. I’ve seen the video taken on a cell phone myself, it shows four women singing and a man dancing in separate scenes and then another man sitting in a separate shot,” he said.
“This is tribal enmity. The video has been engineered to defame the tribe,” he added.
Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Omerzai refuted Afridi’s version of events, claiming it was an internal family matter, and no clerics were involved. “The family saw their children dancing with each other and became embarrassed. So, they decided to kill them,” he told Newsweek Pakistan.
“We have contacted the families and told them to leave the women alone or face the consequences,” he added, confirming that the men had already fled the region. He said security forces had taken eight people into custody already.