SRINAGAR Police has solved a murder case by arresting wife of the deceased and her paramour who happens to be a firebrand cleric (Molvi), in Srinagar, a police spokesman said on Saturday.
According to the spokesperson, the wife, Asifa D/o Muhammad Abdullah Dar of Aloochi Bagh, Srinagar along with her paramour Moulvi Tanveer Bhat (Lelhari) S/o Ali Muhammad Bhat of Lelhar, Pulwama, had murdered Abiroo Shafi Bhat of Khwajapora, Nowgam, on the intervening night of March 10 and 11, 2018.
However, on the morning of March 11, she called her brother-in-law, who lives next door and told him, ”Your Bhaijan (brother) is not waking up from sleep.” She also rang up her parents and father-in-law, who live nearby. The couple and their seven-year-old daughter lived separately and on March 10, the child was left with her maternal grandparents at Aloochi Bagh.
The family buried Abiroo Shafi, believing that he had died of natural causes. Many ascribed it to heart attack although he had no history of heart ailment or any major disease. Neither doctor was called in nor was Abiroo taken to hospital. But those who performed the last ablution (Ghusul) said the body had become very stiff and was unusually cold. They also noticed some marks on the neck, but could not suspect any foul play.
However, family members and those who came to console with the family began asking various questions regarding the sudden & untimely death of Abiroo.
Asifa was asked about the WhatsApp and Facebook apps which were missing from the phone of the deceased, even when he had sent WhatsApp message to a friend a few hours before his death. One of her uncles had asked Asifa that Didnt you feel for a second that you were sleeping next to a dead body through the entire night? According to the father of the deceased, the uncles query made Asifa furious and she asked her mother to tell him (uncle) not to come here again.
There were other red flags that made the family members increasingly suspicious of Asifa. She wasnt as distraught as a Asifa who has just lost her husband with whom she has lived for 12 years, should be. They were not only married for 12 years but had been in a relationship for several years before marriage also. They had married despite objections from their families. Effectively, they had been together for more than half of their lives. Both were in their mid-thirties. Before being arrested by the police, while the family was mourning, Asifa had also sold off a golden bangle that was a gift from her husband.
Asifa meanwhile got Rs 5 lakh from Abiroos family as one-eighth of the inheritance of her deceased husband.
Suspicions grew from the third day of her husbands death, as she began using her phones a lot, which many felt was unusual for a widow.
The familys suspicion mounted when the co-accused in the murder, Moulvi Tanveer Lelhari visited the family on the third day of Abiroos death and delivered a moving sermon to the mourners. According to the family, the Moulvi then went to the womens tent to condole the widow and her mother. The family said he even hugged them both.
As the familys suspicion grew, they called the Asifas father, brother and uncles and talked about her behaviour. They also told them about certain events in the past that pointed to her extra-marital indiscretions. Her family members were specifically asked to inquire from her about the excessive phone use and other markers that raised suspicion. She however flatly denied such charges.
Overwhelmed by suspicion Abiroos father, Muhammad Shafi Bhat approached police station Nowgam and filed a complaint on May 14 suspecting foul play in the death of his son. On the basis of this complaint, police station Nowgam started inquest proceedings under section 174 CrPC.
During proceedings, the family requested Deputy Commissioner Srinagar for exhumation of the body. On May 26, 2018, a team of forensic experts from the forensic department of the Government Medical College Srinagar and doctors from health department exhumed the body and conducted the autopsy. Although the final report is yet to be received but the initial findings revealed that the prima facie cause of death is strangulation.
The police then accordingly registered a case FIR No. 52/2018 under 302 RPC and started investigation.
The police called Moulvi Lelhari for questioning. Initially he denied everything and the call records of the SIM he was using did not yield much information. Neither did the phone of Asifa that she had been using yield anything significant.
However, a few days before his murder, Abiroo had passed a certain phone number to his cousin and asked him to help trace its owner.
Investigation revealed that Abiroo had caught Asifa red handed while talking to Moulvi on phone. He took the number and passed it on to one of his cousins asking him help trace its owner.
The cousin shared the same number with the police, which was traced to Moulvi. Further investigation revealed that Asifa had been using the SIM of one Suhail of Lelhar Pulwama, who happens to be the cousin of Moulvi. The wife feeling annoyed & angered at this behavior, proceeded to her maternal home and called up Moulvi. The duo hatched conspiracy to kill Abiroo Shafi and the murder plan was executed between 12 and 12.30 am on the night of March 10 after Asifa gave a glass of milk stupefied with sedatives to the deceased.
The Moulvi jumped over the wall of the house and entered inside the room through a window, which had been left open by Asifa. When Abiroo was in deep slumber and too sedated to resist, Lelhari strangulated him with the assistance of Asifa. Lelhari stayed in the house till early morning before jumping out of the same wall. He took train from Nowgam railway station for his home at Pulwama.
In their confession, the two accused said they were planning to marry and had been in relationship for more than a year. Lelhari, who was very popular in the locality, used to deliver Friday sermons in the nearby mosque and impressed by his oratory Abiroo had invited him for lunch on several occasions.
Police probe revealed that after some time Abiroo became suspicious of his wife developing illicit relationship with the Molvi. He informed the local head of Jamiat-e-Ahli Hadees, Abdul Qayoom about Moulvi Lelharis behavior. The Moulvi, who taught in a private school in Pampore, was asked not to deliver sermons thereafter, police said.
During investigation, the police found that the Moulvi had inquired from a few locals as to who was pursuing the case in the family. He had also confessed to the crime before a few of them.
Subsequently, Asifa also was arrested and she too confessed to the conspiracy and murder. Accused has been sent to judicial custody at Central Jail Srinagar while as Moulvi is still under Police custody with Police Station Nowgam
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