Days after a resident of Nowgam, in Kashmir, asked for his son’s body to be exhumed, suspecting foul play in what the family had initially believed was a natural death on the intervening night of March 10-11, the police on Saturday claimed to have cracked the case.
The police have booked victim Abiroo Shafi Bhat’s wife Asifa and her friend ‘Moulvi’ Tanveer Bhat for murder after initial findings of the autopsy on Abiroo’s body revealed that prima facie cause of death is strangling.
The final autopsy report is yet to be filed.
Abiroo’s father, Muhammad Shafi Bhat, had on May 26 sought exhumation of the body on suspicion that Asifa was not “as distraught as a wife who has just lost her husband, with whom she had lived for 12 years, is expected to be”. The family told the police that there were several other reasons for them to suspect foul play.
A team of experts from the Forensic department of Government Medical College, Srinagar, and doctors from the Health Department exhumed the body the same day and conducted autopsy. A case has been lodged at Nowgam police station in Srinagar under Section 302 of Ranbir Penal Code, Nowgam SHO Showkat Ahmad Shah said.
According to police, Asifa and Tanveer have confessed to knowing each other for more than a year and that they planned to marry. Asifa has been sent to judicial custody at Central Jail Srinagar and Tanveer is under Nowgam police’s custody.
SHO Shah said, “With people pouring in (after Abiroo’s death), the family did not get time to pay attention to the condition or bruises on his body. The family (later) said the wife seemed as if she was rejoicing in his death. They (subsequently) came to me and named her in complaint and stated that they suspected mischief in Abiroo’s death.”
On March 11 morning, Asifa reportedly called up Abiroo’s brother and told him that her husband was not waking up. The couple’s seven-year-old daughter was left with her maternal grandparents on March 10 night.
The family buried Abiroo the same day, believing he had died of natural causes. “Many ascribed it to heart attack, although he had no history of heart ailment or any major disease,” an officer said. Not suspecting foul play, the family neither called a doctor nor took Abiroo to hospital, the officer added.
The police said Asifa was allegedly caught by her husband talking to Tanveer a day before his death and gave the number to a cousin to get call record details. Annoyed, Asifa left for her parent’s home and allegedly called Tanveer. “The duo conspired to kill Abiroo Shafi. As per the plan, she kept their child at maternal home. The murder plan was executed between 12 and 12.30 am (March 11) after she gave (Abiroo) a glass of milk with sedatives,” an officer said.
Late at night, the police said, Tanveer allegedly scaled the wall and entered the room through a window, which Asifa had allegedly left open.
“When Abiroo was in deep slumber, too sedated to resist, Tanveer strangulated him with Asifa’s help,” an officer said. “He stayed in the house till early morning, and took the train from Nowgam railway station for his home in Pulwama.”