LAHORE - Police snatched away the body of a 22-year-old burned woman from Lahore’s Mayo Hospital to thwart a protest late Tuesday night.

After battling for life for two months, Sumera Bibi died in the burn unit of the Mayo Hospital. According to her parents, the mother of a three-month boy was set ablaze by her husband and in-laws.

The Gujranwala police sprung into action as they came know that the victim family was going to hold a protest demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club.

The elder sister of the victim told The Nation that some policemen thrashed and dragged them outside the hospital as they offered resistance when the police party tried to take away the body. “The male police officers thrashed and abused us. They snatched the body and fled away on the police vehicle,” her sister Humera told reporters.

Over a dozen relatives of the victim including her parents reached the Lahore Press Club on an ambulance to expose police brutalities late Tuesday night. They staged a protest demonstration against the police highhandedness and demanded the Punjab chief minister to bring the culprits to justice.

The poor family continued protesting for almost an hour but they left for their native town to collect the body later. The police shifted the body to a Gujranwala village to force the family to call off the protest.

The resident of Jangi Rakh Kikranwali, Sumera was admitted to the hospital on February 27, where she expired late Tuesday night.

“She had been a victim of domestic violence. Her jobless husband used to torture her over minor domestic issues,” her father, Muhammad Arshad said. The poor farmer said that the victim had married to Mudassar just one year ago.

Earlier, the Ferozwala police had registered an attempted murder case against the husband and his relatives on the complaint of Arshad. The accused have already secured pre-arrest bails from the local courts with the help of police investigators.

The victim’s mother said that Mudassar brutally tortured her daughter as she insisted that she wanted to attend the wedding ceremony of a relative.

“She was sleeping in the bedroom when she was set afire by her husband and in-laws on that night. My cute daughter was killed mercilessly,” the ill-fated mother said. “The police are backing the criminals because they are paid heavy bribe to get clean chit”.

When contacted, the Gujranwala regional police officer was not available for his comments.

In March, The Nation conducted an investigation involving female burn victims. The study revealed that many married women who attempted self-immolation or set afire by relatives this year in different parts of the province were part of a joint family system.

Among the victims were several young and newly married women who took the extreme step either to get rid of domestic violence or as punishment to their in-laws.

Either these young women took their own life by using kerosene oil, petrol or acid or they were burnt by their spouses or in-laws. Almost in every suicidal case of a married woman, her in-laws are booked on murder charges on the complaint of her patents or other relatives.

Police are investigating a number of such unexplained killings which usually are blamed on in-laws. Last year, the police had also reported dozens of such deaths which took place in different parts of the metropolis. These unexplained deaths of several women as reported in the province during the last couple of months have raised questions on the social system we live in.

Legal experts say violence against women would continue in this society despite the introduction of the much-hyped Protection of Women against Violence Bill, 2015. However, a recognised and hassle-free platform would encourage the married women to fight their cases legally instead of taking their own lives.

Early this year, the provincial legislators adopted the long-awaited women protection law which contains remedies for victims of violence, criminalises all forms of violence against women and also provides them with special centres which remove the usual red-tape hurdles that complicate a woman’s quest for justice.

As per plans, special centres for the married women will also be set up for reconciliation and resolution of disputes. Protection officers will be liable to inform the defendant whenever a complaint is received. Rights activists say the much-needed platform of protection officers would provide a cushion to the victims of domestic violence.