A woman has been arrested after a botched plot to murder her husband with a poisoned glass of milk led to the death of 15 of his family members.
Aasia Bibi, 21, was forced to marry Amjad Akram against her will. Two months into the unhappy marriage, the young bride, who was allegedly in love with another man, hatched a plot to kill her husband.
A month later, she poisoned the glass of milk for her 25-year-old husband. But after Amjad refused to drink the glass of milk, Aasia’s mother-in-law unknowingly used the milk to make Lassi – a popular traditional yogurt-based drink in the Indian Subcontinent.
The beverage was served to 27 of Amjad’s family members and after drinking it, they started showing poisoning symptoms.
A senior police officer involved in the case said: “Aasia was forced to marry Amjad against her will. She was not happy and came back to her parents’ house after a few days into marriage but her family forcibly sent her back to her in-laws’ house. Aasia concocted the plot to avenge being married against her will and was provided with poisonous substance by her alleged lover, Shahid Lashari. But the plot went awry when Aasia’s husband did not drink the glass of milk she handed to him. Instead, her mother-in-law used the tainted milk to make Lassi.”
Police said that initially Aasia claimed that a lizard had fallen into the milk, poisoning it. But she confessed her role in the custody. Three people including Aasia’s alleged lover and her aunt, who are suspected to have a role in the whole plot, have been arrested by police.
However, the young woman from Pakistan, Punjab province, denied all of the allegations levelled against her when the accused were presented before the media. She said: “Shahid told me to poison the beverage but I didn’t do it. He asked me to marry him but I refused.”
Although Pakistan recently strengthened laws designed to prevent child marriage and forced conversion, there is little legal remedy for women who reject a partner chosen for them by their family.
Pakistan accounted for the highest number of forced marriages reported to the UK’s Forced Marriage Unit in 2016.
Incidents of poisoning are common in the Punjab, where marrying out of choice remains an anomaly. Last month a newly-married couple were poisoned for unknown reasons by the family of the bride.