Bride's Brutal Departure
Police has rounded up six suspects to unravel the mystery around the death of a postgraduate girl student who’s body was fished out of Jhelum this week, nine days after she went missing. Aliya Bashir reports.
One June 11, when Afroza’s parents called her for dinner there was no response. Within moments they found out that Afroza was not home. The 26-year-old had left home after receiving a call from one Mohammad Ayoub Wagay, 22, in the evening, Afroza’s younger sister, Khalida told her family.
A second semester student of MA Islamic studies at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Afroza was a resident of Maloora, Shalteng.
At around 8:55 pm, Afroza had attended Wagays’ call. Wagay was a friend of Afroza’s former fiancé Rafiq Ahmad Bhat and thus known to her too. Wagay and Bhat were residents of nearby localities in Maloora.
“Come outside and I’ll accompany you to Rafiq’s home. He has agreed to give his signatures on notary papers. Wagay had told her,” Afroza’s family said.
Before, Afroza left, she called her new fiancé, Mohammad Altaf Bhat and told her about Wagay’s call. Bilal , Afroza’s brother, says Altaf told her to take some one along, or to ask Wagay to come somewhere nearer to her home. Afroza left home to meet Ayoub, intending to return quickly, and informing only her younger sister.
Later at dinner time, when the family found Afroza missing they tried to call on her cellphone.
“We thought Afroza is studying in her room. When we came to know that she had left, we immediately called on her phone which was switched off,” Bilal said.
At around 11.30pm the family went to Ayoub’s home to look for Afroza.
“We found Ayoub at his house talking to someone on phone, and his friend, Abdul Rehman Sofi watching TV. We enquired about Afrooza he told us that he had called her but then Afrooza had called him back telling him that she cannot come because of a headache,” her family members said.
Next day (June 12) at 11: 30 am, the family filed a missing report with the Police Station, Sumbal. “On June 14, police confirmed the call records from Chandigarh and the last call attended was found to be from Ayoub’s number. Following an FIR, Ayoub was arrested on June 13 and other suspects on June 14 and 15.
Her body was fished out from Jhelum at Shilwat on 20 June at 5: 40 pm. Her family says her left leg was broken, and the body had injury marks on the neck, while a toe nail was broken.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sumbal, Muhammad Tahir Saleem said they have arrested six suspects in the case. “It would be premature to comment on the cause of death. But, as soon as we’ll receive the autopsy reports which normally takes 10 days, whosoever found guilty will be booked under law,” he said.
The arrested suspects are Mohammad Ayoub Wagay son of Abdul Ahad Wagay of Maloora, his two friends Farooq Ahmed Bhat son of Mohammad Sultan Bhat of Shalteng and Abdul Rehman Sofi son of Bashir Ahmed Sofi of Maloora, Roheet and Imran, brothers of Rafiq Ahmed Bhat and their mother, Nazeera.
Reportedly, the families of Ayoub and Rafiq have fled their homes.
Afroza had a romantic affair with Rafiq since 2001 and after years of persistence (in motivating families) the two were engaged in 2006. But a tragedy struck their lives in 2007, when a road accident left Rafiq Paralysed. He could barely move his limbs, and was confined to a wheelchair.
“Afroza was emotionally drained. She was depressed. Rafiq insisted that now that he was dependent on others he could not take care of her. After a lot of persuasion from both her family and Rafiq, Afroza was motivated and ended the relationship,” Bilal said.
On 15 April, 2010 Afroza tried to start a new chapter in her life as she was engaged to Mohammad Altaf, also from Maloora.
Four days after the engagement (April 19) the family found copies of court marriage documents (notary) of Afroza and Rafiq at their door and some posters at the outside wall. According to the papers Rafiq and Afroza had married in court in 2004 (two years before they were engaged formally with the consent of families).
“This was a jolt for her. She was very sensitive. Due to the incident she was feeling very low and humiliated. Though her fiancé Altaf was very co-operative with her on this issue, but, still she was feeling guilty,” Bilal said.
To resolve the crisis, Afroza’s family and relatives consulted village elders and a lawyer and decided to meet Rafiq and get his signatures on divorce papers.
“When we went to meet Rafiq, his mother, Nazeera demanded one lakh rupees for Rafiq’s signatures on divorce papers. Although, Rafiq was ready to sign but his mother did not allow him to,” Bilal said.
Nazeera had even admitted before police that she demanded money from Afroza’s family.
After long discussions among relatives of both families with village elders, Bilal says, the family was asked to wait till Rafiq’s surgery on June 15. They had consented to ensure Rafiq’s signatures after his surgery, though without Nazeera’s knowledge, says Bilal.
But fate had something else in store for her.