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Crimes and Punishments

01 Apr

In Baloch society an offence against the individual such as theft or robbery was a corporate against the entire tribe. Any contravention was punished according to the nature of the crime committed. But if the offence was committed outside the tribe, it was considered an offence against that tribe. The individual acts consequently would become the responsibility of the tribes concerned. His family and the entire people suffered. The opposing tribesmen could revenge the guilt in an appropriate manner, not necessarily against that particular individual but against any person belonging to the tribe of the offender.
Sentence for misdemeanor was the payment of appropriate fine or compensating the loss of property in case of theft or robbery. Sometimes robbery was also punished with death. Punishment of corporate crime was outlawry of person, that is, disowning the individual and declaring him isolated from the tribe. This was one of the major punishments and rarely awarded. In that case he was also banished from the area.
There is least evidence of awarding punishment of dore kassag, tearing to pieces by horses; pahao, hanging, which was awarded to traitors and the enemy agents. These forms of punishment nevertheless were clearly a later addition and not the original Baloch practices. Beheading was the common mode of inflicting the sentence. There is, however, no evidence of any permanent hangman or jallad among the Baloch for the purposes of executing criminals. In Kalat State, there was no permanent post of a hangman. Death sentence, however, was always awarded in public.
There is no evidence of punishment of death by drowning, throwing from rock, burning or burying alive, pouring molten lead on the criminal, starvation in the dungeons, tearing to death by red hot pincers, cutting asunder and stoning to death, or the Persian and Mughal practices of blinding and maiming. Most of these forms of punishment were prevalent in Semitic societies and sanctioned by Mosaic Law , (Jews used these forms of punishments against the conquered peoples in Palestine in the Biblical times), and later on crept into many cultures through Islam.
In case of murder the relatives of the deceased had the inalienable right to claim blood for blood; and this claim had the tribal code of conduct, the deceased family and the entire tribal strength behind it. The murderer could be forgiven only by the nearest kin. Among a few tribes blood compensation was given by the offender or his family. Relatives of the offender had to accept the punishment and were obliged to agree to the award if no settlement was reached. Extreme torture or dishonouring was against the tribal norms. Torture to low-castes involving serious crimes was sometimes perpetrated. The Baloch thought it more honourable to be beheaded than hanged. Other modes of capital punishment were insulating.
The only crime which could invoke death penalty or banishment besides treason was adultery. Sometimes mere suspicion of unfaithfulness by wife was sufficient to put her to death. The man would also get the same punishment. But among some tribes who were alleged to be inferior in caste, the adulterous woman was divorced and the adulterer was obliged to marry her. In case of adultery there was no need for the aggrieved husband to resort to any tribal council to get a decision. He himself inflicted the sentence. The unmarried women or widows get punishment from their near relatives.
A very peculiar cultural trait was that even the criminal or offender, if apprehended, would never tell a lie even in the face of instant punishment. This was against his sense of honour and pride. he was always truthful. This made torture to extract information or confession of guilt quite unnecessary.
Among the ancient Baloch, like other Aryan groups, trial by ordeal was perhaps in vogue. The culprit had to prove his innocence by walking through the fire or putting his hands on a hot rod. In Balochi folk stories there are numerous instances when the innocence of the offender had to be proved by putting his hands on the hot stones, tapag. This practice was perhaps discarded early in the Christian era.
In most cultures any child of less than ten years was usually considered incapable or guilt on the ground that he or she was too young to differentiate between right and wrong. The practice was completely reversed among the Baloch. The Baloch child had a penetrating sense regarding his enemies and friends. Old blood accounts sometimes were settled by persons of less than ten years. A Baloch child took part in battles. Therefore, the case of guilt or criminal responsibility for the minor was always judged according to circumstances and merit of the case. The members of the family of the minor would have to bear the responsibility of his guilt if the crime was provoked by them. The home of any Baloch elder was a safe refuge and place of protection for all the offenders of law till the decision of the dispute through the Jirga or med.

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Posted by on April 1, 2011 in Baloch Culture

 

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