27 year old journalist killed, for going to work: Pakistan

Urooj Iqbal is the seventh female journalist killed in 2019

Urooj Iqbal

LAHORE, PAKISTAN: The Coalition For Women In Journalism (Rabia Mushtaq) has expressed alarmed and condemned the cold-blooded murder of a young Pakistani journalist Urooj Iqbal, who has been shot dead outside her office on Monday, November 25. This is the seventh case of murder recorded this year. 

Urooj, 27, who worked for a local Punjabi newspaper Sargi News, was allegedly attacked by her husband outside her office building where she was shot in the head, leaving her dead on the spot. The young journalist has been brutally gunned down in an incident, as reportedly by her family, following a tiff with her husband who wanted her to leave her job as a journalist. Some sources also suggest the couple has had a separation due to the matter. Urooj was living in a room next to her office in the newspaper’s building.

“This case crystalizes the multi-layered dangers women journalists face in many countries, Pakistan being one of them. After speaking to those who were close to Urooj, it is very clear that her job as a journalist was a problem for her partner, who is accused in the fatal shooting that killed the young journalist,” said Kiran Nazish. “Our hearts go out to Urooj’s family and loved ones. This is indeed a heartbreaking event, but also one that needs immediate notice both by authorities and institutions who are responsible to condemn such attacks and take steps to stop them from happening before.”

After her brother, Yasir Iqbal, filed a complaint in the local police station, a murder case was registered against Urooj’s husband Dilawar, who is also a journalist at a local newspaper. The case is under investigation and the police has sought footage of the CCTV positioned in the building, which has been sent for forensic analysis; while Urooj’s body has also been sent for autopsy.

We spoke with Rana Islam, the SDPO (supervisor of the police department) of Qila Gujjar Singh – the jurisdiction of the murder, who said, “When we reached the site of the murder – the corridor of the building’s floor where Urooj lived, we found her body lying near the stairs. But we are yet to determine if the murderer was her husband. Her brother suspects it’s her husband, as she recently filed a complaint against him. But the matter was resolved internally by them.”

He further added that the husband is still not a part of the investigation, as he has sought an interim bail, but the police is considering all the aspects and evidence of the case. “As of now, we do not cannot comment about the number of people involved in the murder. Once the husband is taken onboard for investigation, we will be able to share more details about the case,” the SDPO said when speaking with CFWIJ.

The journalist was living under immense torture by her husband soon after a few months of their marriage. The couple had contracted love marriage in Pakistan’s city Gujranwala seven months ago. The husband was pressurizing Urooj to quit her job. It is devastating to see a woman still being told what she can or cannot do even in this day and age.

In a patriarchal society where men dominate rather evidently, women having the liberty to even work without being policed by the men in their families is a struggle. After her husband tortured her recently, the 27-year-old journalist had lodged a case against him at a local police station, but no action was taken by the police. The matter was later said to be resolved by both their families, but to no avail. A few days before being murdered, Urooj called her brother to inform him about the death threats she was receiving by her husband.

It is appalling to see a woman journalist being killed merely for not abiding by her husband’s unjust demands. We, at The Coalition, demand for prompt action by Lahore’s police and state authorities.

Urooj is the seventh journalist killed this year. Less than a day before the news of her murder, we found reports about a Chilean journalist found dead in her apartment.



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