What happened in village Kanga near Larkana that night where a local singer was shot dead while performing
In the darkness of the night, under the open sky some musicians are playing music on a wooden platform while a young woman is singing famous Sufi Sindhi song "Alaai chaa me raazi aa, Alaai kanh san razzi aa (no one knows the will of God, no one knows his mystical way)". Some people from the audience have surrounded the platform. They are showering currency notes on the singer and musicians. Someone from the audience shouts, ordering her to stand and sing. As she stands three fire shots are heard and she falls on the stage.
She was 8-months pregnant. Someone was recording the scene on cell phone that later became viral on social media. Samina Sindhu was a local singer of Larkana who was performing at a circumcision ceremony in village Kanga near Larkana.
She got married to Aashiq Samoo two years ago. "Sometime back I took her to the doctor who said she was pregnant with a baby boy. It was our first baby and she was very excited. She bought lots of clothes and toys for the baby," Aashiq Samoo told TNS over telephone.
He said his wife Samina wanted to hold a ceremony to celebrate the baby’s arrival. She had thought of inviting all the singers from the district but before she could deliver the baby, she was killed.
Kanga Police Larkana registered a case on complaints of Samina’s husband Aashiq Samoo in which Samoo pleaded that during the ceremony an influential Tariq Jatoi and two others sitting in the front row stood up and insisted that she should stand and sing. At this she said she was pregnant and could not sing while standing. They got angry and opened fire when she actually did stand up.
"One bullet pierced her abdomen, killing the baby, and crossed her body," the FIR quoted Samoo. He and his wife came in a car to attend the ceremony. He took his injured wife in the same car to Larkana.
"When we reached the hospital in Larkana, there wasn’t any doctor present. I requested the paramedics to do something to save her life and somehow they managed to stop her bleeding. By then Samina had become very weak with severe bleeding. Her condition worsened with every passing minute. I felt so helpless, not knowing what to do," Samoo recalled. He said after the media coverage many doctors reached the hospital but she could not sustain the wounds and died.
On the request of a family member, Larkana Police also included section of Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) in the case; the other two who were nominated in the FIR are still at large. "We cannot arrest anyone until the main accused admits that they were with him," said DSP Liaquat Abbasi, the Investigation Officer (IO) in the case.
During investigation the main accused Tariq Jatoi in a statement to the police, said that during the ceremony he did fire but that was aerial firing. "Samina wasn’t the target. The bullet inadvertently hit her," said Jatoi. He also rejected the allegations that he forced her to stand and sing but as she stood a bullet hit her in the stomach.
IO Abbasi doesn’t agree with his statement. He says that the way the fire was opened shows the accused had targeted her. "It was not aerial firing. The bullet was targeted at the singer," said the investigation officer.
"We couldn’t find any criminal record of the main accused. On the basis of statements of eye-witnesses, the police found that the accused had asked Samina Sindhu to pay him his share from her earning," said DSP Abbasi.
It’s a common practice in Sindh to take cases of honour killings and tribal clashes to traditional jirgas but their number have reduced after the ban on jirgas by the Supreme Court. Still, the accused approached the local influentials to resolve tussles privately. Samoo is in no way going to a jirga.
"I won’t accept a patch up at any cost. I will set myself ablaze with my young siblings if I do not get justice. Two of my family members; my wife and my child were killed. I cannot forgive the accused," says Samoo. He further said, "Samina would get Rs10,000 to Rs20,000 at the most for singing in a ceremony. Sometimes people would shower some money on her and her team and at the maximum it would add up to Rs50,000 in one ceremony. She was supporting her family financially as I am a patient of Hepatitis B, my father is suffering from kidney failure and I have minor siblings."
In Sindh, firing incidents during ceremonies is becoming a trend. Shabana alias Shaboo, cousin of Samina Sindhu, says, "During wedding ceremonies people resort to firing. When we complain and request to stop the firing, the management of the ceremonies asks us to continue singing and forget about the firing." Shaboo, also a singer said, "Singing is our livelihood and most of the singers are poor. Despite firing incidents we keep going to the ceremonies to earn something."
It’s not just on wedding ceremonies that people sing and dance. It has been going on for ages at the shrines of sufi saints. But due to the rising religious extremism, nobody sings or dances at the shrines in Shikarpur and Jacobabad, Kashmore and other districts any more. In these districts, singing and dancing is considered an immoral practice that has also affected private ceremonies.
In Dadu district, an NGO Sujaag Sansaar Organisation has formed groups of female singers. These groups go to the Sufi shrines to sing and dance. Sujaag Sansaar Organisation’s Mashooq Birhamani has said that singing and dancing is a part of Sindhi culture and those who oppose this culture are extremists, they want to impose their personal views on masses.
These local sufi singers not only earn bread and butter for their families by singing and dancing, they are also promoting sufi poetry.
Journalist Naz Sahto said, "Intolerance is on the rise in Sindhi society. In the past if somebody did not like anything, he would leave the ceremony but now people show their power."
Despite increasing use of internet and social media, in Sindh people still prefer to purchase traditional tape recorder cassettes. Samina Sindhu was a local traditional singer with at least eight cassettes of her songs released.
Home Minister Sindh Sohail Anwar Sial condemned the incident and ordered the arrest of all the culprits in the case. Talking in Sindh Assembly on Monday, Sial said that Sindhu’s family would be given foolproof security.