REPORTED TO be dead after she and her four daughters were allegedly pushed off a train in Sitapur district, 40-year-old Afreen reached her native village Jhakra in Bihar’s West Champaran district on Monday with her two-year-old daughter Haseena. She was produced before the GRP in Lucknow on Tuesday, where she alleged that her husband threw their daughters from the train, as he didn’t have the money to get them married. Following this, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has decided to give a clean chit to the two persons accused of pushing off Afreen and her four daughters from the train. It is now considering Iddu Ansari, the father, as the main accused.
On October 24, a six-year-old girl, Munni, was found dead along the railway tracks in Sitapur. Near her were her injured sisters Anbul (7) and Saleeba (4). A day later, a woman – who was later identified as Afreen by her mother and other relatives – was found dead around 50 km away near the tracks at Maigalganj in Lakhimpur Kheri. Her 11-year-old daughter, Rabiya, was found unconscious near the tracks in Mahmudabad. The youngest girl, Haseena, couldn’t be found. At present, while one girl is being treated in Lucknow, two others have been admitted to a Sitapur hospital.
Anbul had first claimed that her father threw her off before changing her statement to name Afreen’s cousin Iqbal and his friend Izhaar. The GRP had booked the two based on her statement. “A woman came to us and said she was Afreen. We sent her to Jagdishpur police station, under which her village Jhakra falls. As the UP Police needed her for the probe, she was sent to Lucknow,” West Champaran SP Vinay Kumar said.
The woman, who was brought to the Lucknow GRP SP Saumitra Yadav’s office on Tuesday, alleged that her husband had thrown their daughters from the train, as he could not arrange money for their marriage. “Our Bihar counterparts informed us yesterday evening that Ansari’s wife Afreen Khatoon had reached her village in the morning along with her daughter Haseena. On October 25, Afreen’s mother and other family members had identified the body of a woman, recovered from railway tracks in Maigalganj, as that of Afreen,” said Ashok Verma, GRP Circle Officer (CO), Lucknow.
Lucknow GRP SP Saumitra Yadav said: “Afreen was brought to my office. She said that on October 23, the couple, along with their five daughters, had left Bihar for Jammu, where the husband used to work. On way, the man allegedly pushed his four daughters from the speeding train.” “The woman also alleged that as Ansari was going to throw Haseena off the train, she somehow managed to snatch her away. After reaching Jammu, he allegedly forcibly put her on a train to Bihar. She reached her village on Monday morning,” he added.
According to an officer with the Jagdishpur police station in Bihar, Afreen has claimed that they had boarded the Kamakhya-Katra Express and not the Janseva Express as was claimed by the UP Police earlier. “She said her husband drank liquor and quarreled with her in the train. While arguing with her near a crowded gate of a general compartment, he allegedly threw their four daughters off the train… no one from the crowd apparently tried to stop Iddu,” the officer added.
The Lucknow GRP SP said the woman’s statement would be recorded before the magistrate and on its basis, her cousin Iqbal and his friend Izhaar would be exonerated from charges of murder and attempt to murder. Earlier, a police team had found that both accused were there at their native village in Bihar on October 23. Meanwhile, the police team camping at Katra area of Jammu is yet to trace Ansari, where he used to work as a mason. His cellphone location had been traced to Katra.
Also, the GRP is yet to trace the real identity of the woman, whose body was identified as that of Afreen by her family. “We are making efforts to identify the victim. While the postmortem report had stated that the woman died due to her injuries, it had not confirmed rape attempt,” Lakhimpur Kheri SP S Channappa said.
WITH INPUTS FROM SANTOSH SINGH, PATNA