Punjab police have arrested 13 suspects for the murder of a street vendor during a wedding ceremony in Pattoki.
The murder garnered national attention after a video went viral purportedly showing the wedding guests continuing with their dining and festivities as the body of the slain man laid in the middle of the wedding hall floor.
The first information report (FIR) of the incident states that the wedding guests got into a fight with the papad vendor, Mohammad Ashraf, beating him up and then dragging him inside the wedding hall.
The decedent’s brother-in-law reportedly witnessed the incident, claiming that at about 4pm he saw five to six people beating his brother outside the Al Jannat wedding hall. The suspects had reportedly started an altercation with the street vendor over the purchase of some rice crackers.
“We went and started pleading [with] the people who were beating him [to stop]. They dragged him inside the wedding hall,” the brother-in-law said in the FIR.
Pattoki Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Asif Hanif told Dawn that the incident was ‘very unfortunate’ and that police were interrogating the 13 suspects. A spokesperson for the Punjab police also said that the investigation would rely on CCTV footage and other available evidence.
Street vending is a common, if precarious, livelihood for many of Pakistan’s poor. In 2020, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Centre of Street Economy (CSE) and Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division drafted a bill to regularize and safeguard the rights of street vendors.