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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.

Comments

asha's picture

How Tragic!

Dear Aliya,
Thanks for the detailed account of this terrible end to a young life.
My mind at this point is just exploding with anger....
2 plots caused this:
Casuality with which families meet big issues in their kids lives.
And conspiracy between young men covering a greedy woman's wickedness.

May God guards all against the demons within themselves and bestows
His Mercy to protect all.

asha

Aliya Bashir's picture

My curfew diary

Curfew is here again. This time it seems to be indefinite. And reminds of the days when the entire valley remained under siege during Amarnath land row in 2008 and again over the Shopain alleged rapes and murders in 2009.
This time however, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah himself announce the imposition of curfew and asked people to respect it, cooperate with the troopers, especially CRPF so that situation is brought under control. The situation is gloomy after a spate of killings of youth especially teenagers allegedly by police and CRPF, across the Valley. Each protest leading to further killings.
The interior city areas or the old city of Srinagar as usual bore the brunt of curfews (undeclared) and strikes. People irrespective of age, and gender are hostages in their own homes.
“It has become a routine now. First they kill and then they cage us in our homes,” said Abdul Rashid Najar, a resident of Aali Kadal area of old city. “I had to take my father to an eye specialist, as I had got an appointment with the doctor after two months. But, we were not allowed to go. I even showed them the X-ray reports and prescriptions.”
Like the people, normal life is hostage too. Everything here is uncertain. People are planning things for tomorrow with a big ‘If’.
“Tomorrow, we’ll do this and this... if they lift the curfew.”
Such an environment tells upon people in many other ways.
“People quarrel with one another - with spouses, children, parents - on petty things, due to the emotional drain of the present simmering situation,” says Mugli Begum, a resident of Khanyar. “Bardaashi chukh kam gomut, akh aekis chi zaagan. Lakhchan lakchan kathan paeth (Patience is lost. Now they (family members) catch each other over trivial things.)”
For parents, children confined to homes adds to the headache. “Children need to play. They ask for those things which are not available. They have finished the homework. Now we fail to motivate them for further revisions,” says Asmat Qayoom, a parent. “I am frustrated by the situation.”
Ishrat Reshi, a resident of Lal Bazar was caught in the curfew at her maternal residence at Mallarata, Srinagar from Sunday.
“We were used to such situation from last two decades, but for children, it’s not the same. My eight year old daughter is very sensitive. We don’t face such hardships at Lal-bazar,” she said. “When she hears any shooting or stone pelting, she begins to vomit, runs to a bathroom... doesn’t speak, doesn’t eat.” Ishrat said. For this reason Ishrat rarely brings her daughter to her maternal home in the sensitive old city area.
The undeclared curfews have their own uncertainty given the absence of official announcements. Plus the paramilitary men often barge into interior localities chasing youngsters or smashing window panes of houses.
“CRPF cops go berserk and smash window panes of many houses which has become a trend during the curfew. They have even cut the telephone and cable TV lines,” said Aijaz Ahmed, a resident of Kamangarpora, Srinagar.
For the poor and daily wager class frequent curfews become a matter of survival.
“When you don’t work, how can you live? They should take poor families like us into consideration. How many times do we have to scold our children, when they ask for vegetables. They are fed up of vaer (solid form of mixed spices)?” remarks a feeble looking Fazi, a mother of four, in Fateh Kadal, Srinagar.
Nowhatta resident Rehana’s wedding ceremony was going to be a grand affair. But, curfew played as the spoilsport.
“We cancelled the invitations. We had hired a music and dance band to entertain our guests. But, due to the uncertain situation we were forced to perform the Nikah ceremony in an austere way,” she said.
Rehana was excited about the ceremony too. From jewellery to an embroidered Lehanga she was planning each detail.
But all plans had to be shelved. Rehana’s father, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Qazi wanted to book a marriage hall but had to cancel the plan.
“We could only arrange curfew passes for a few. As, our daughter has to shift to UAE with her husband, so, we did not have the option of postponing it either,” he said.
In the unpredictability of the situation the residents are using any chances they get to buy and store essential commodities.

AB

jadefrank's picture

curfews

Dear Aliya,

I love your writing, and I am sad to hear about the current situation in Kashmir. I look to you and to Nusrat to report the truth of what's happening, from the people's perspective on the ground. So thank you for continuing to tell us the stories of Kashmir people and for writing so beautifully.

I re-posted this in a new journal so more people could read the stories of Rehana, Mugli, Aijaz and others. I hope that's okay with you.

In friendship and solidarity,
Jade

Aliya Bashir's picture

jade its just tip of an

jade its just tip of an iceberg,......the real tragedy is that after four killings in less than 24 hours including a 24 year old women who was looking out of window for her brother was shot dead by indian security forces, today the government has again gagged media- the big slogans of democracy is exposed before us like anything....so u can expect how difficult it is to put the truth across....still keeping all restrictions in consideratiomn, we are tryn to report the truth....
thanx 4 appreciation......

AB

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