Uzbekistan national Shakhnoza Shukurova was speaking to her mother, Shokhista, on mobile video-conferencing barely 30 minutes before she was allegedly abducted and then murdered by two of her associates over a money dispute.
Shokhista, 60, who reached Delhi from Uzbekistan on October 2, in search of the youngest of three daughters, remembers their conversation clearly. Shakhnoza, 28, also known as Shahnaz, told her Naaz, also from Uzbekistan, owed her money and she was going to meet her to get it and then attend a party in Safdarjung Enclave.
Naaz and Gurvinder alias Gagan, who has been arrested, are suspected of having abducted Shahnaz on September 24. Her body was stuffed in a bag, set on fire and dumped in a farmer’s field at Samalkha in Haryana’s Panipat district. The body was found the next day. Haryana Police cremated the body, then unidentified, after a few days, even as Delhi Police looked into a missing person complaint made by a private car driver Shahnaz always hired.
Shokhista, who is in Delhi with her daughters Zamika and Nadira, cannot speak English. Zamika can and translates for her, but English did not take them far with Delhi Police, they said.
For more than a month they have been staying in a guest house in Lajpat Nagar, paying Rs 3,700 per day. Money has also flowed on cabs hired to meet police officials every day, they said. “We came to know about Shahnaz missing on September 25 after one of her friends told us. Zamika and I applied for visa applications and arrived in India. Nadira flew in from the US on October 5 and we started looking for Shahnaz,” said Shokhista.
Shokhista claimed police officials initially investigating the case did not help them at all. “The first investigation officer, who did not understand English, would not understand how serious the situation was and would tell us to come again each time. We then asked inspector Sushil, who was looking after the work of SHO, to appoint someone who could assist us, but nothing happened. One of my daughter’s friends later helped us translate, but they did not tell us anything about the probe,” said Shokhista.
Feeling helpless, Shokhista and her daughters decided to approach the government. They would visit cyber cafés to look up addresses of government heads and send letters to them. Zamika said, “We visited police headquarters in ITO, Delhi Secretariat and other offices of investigation agencies. But none of them showed interest, especially after inspector Sushil kept telling them my sister was doing some wrong things.”
Zamika alleged police were not interested in finding Shahnaz, but stuck on what she did.