By Aamir Saeed –
An 11-year-old girl was burnt to ashes after rape by her tutor’s boyfriend in Islamabad last month after the pair also collaborated to have another girl raped and killed
All he dreamt of was a secure future for his daughter. But far from realizing the dream, barely got to recognize her remains in an episode that is shocking for its barbarity.
It is not too difficult to imagine how the mental scars will play out but for now, it has left the family shaken and broken. “We moved from Murree to Islamabad a couple of months ago with the hope our children would make good on their promise but the city has devoured our daughter,” said Mohammad Ejaz, 48, a daily-wager from Barani College, Rawalpindi.
Sitting in the distance, with a couple of female mourners in an under-construction house, Haseena Bibi, mother of 10-year-old Shahzadi, said she had lost all hope in everything after the incident. “I worked in the locality as a maid and sent Shahzadi to school for I knew the importance of education. Now, I worry about the future of my other children as I fear sending them to school or tuition,” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Shahzadi was the eldest of four siblings, Kainat, 8; Bilal, 6 and Afzal 5. She went missing mysteriously as the evening shadows of February 13 lengthened, leaving her parents, relatives and neighbours in a state of shock.
She was a student of Class-3 in a government school in Murree and lived with her grandmother Akhtar Bibi. The victim’s mother brought her daughter to Islamabad a few weeks ago as schools in Murree were closed for winter vacations. “Shahzadi would tell me often that she wanted to be a school teacher. She was a bright student. Her tragic demise has torn me asunder. Nothing can heal this wound,” said the grandmother.
“She went for tuition to a neighbourhood girl, Mehak, but didn’t return home. We made announcements about Shahzadi’s disappearance from the locality’s mosques and searched for her everywhere but in vain,” recalled the father.
Suspecting Shahzadi’s tutor of involvement in the inexplicable disappearance, Ejaz lodged an FIR with Bhara Kahu Police against 55-year-old Qaiser Ali, his daughter Zehra Mehak Qaiser and son Zeeshan on February 16.
However, the police exonerated the accused family from the crime after questioning them for a few hours. “They are innocent people. Keep on searching your daughter and we’ll do, too,” a police official told the family. “At first, we suspected the family of kidnapping our daughter for some ulterior motive but later it turned out to be even worse. After five days of her disappearance, we received Shahzadi’s body that was charred beyond recognition.”
The Industrial Area Police recovered the body in Sector I-9 from a six-feet-deep manhole on February 17. Shortly after, the police registered a criminal case against Shahzadi’s tutor Mehak, her family and Ibrar, a boyfriend of Mehak under Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code. “We recognized the body from her teeth and a piece of shirt as the body was reduced to just a few bones,” recalled the wailing mother. Initially, the family received a cold shoulder from the police as the latter didn’t move to arrest the criminals.
“The police’s cold response outraged us and we resorted to a protest demonstration. We couldn’t control our emotions. Still no-one heard us, save for the media and Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.”
The police sprang into action only after the chief justice took suo moto notice on February 18 and summoned the Inspector General of Police for an update on the gruesome incident.
Shortly after getting the information from the accused, the police raided Ibrar’s home and detained him. “The accused burnt the body twice in a bid to remove even remote evidence of the crime. However, he confessed to the crime in his statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” a police official associated with the case, revealed.
The confessional statement made by Zehra Mehak is nothing if not shocking in its denouement. It throws up a disturbing picture of a bond rooted in utter depravity. Mehak claims that her boyfriend Ibrar, a qualified MBA, who is an HR Manager at Ittehad Steel in Sector I-9, had been pestering her to introduce any friend of hers for a physical relationship “to cure of him of AIDS”. He is reported to have used this as a pretext.
Mehak, who goes to the NUML University, admits to offering him the 10-year-old Shahzadi, whom she tutored. On the fateful day, as planned, Mehak took leave from NUML University and asked Shahzadi to come in the morning instead of the regular evening time. Ibrar meanwhile arrived when no-one was at her place.
Mehak asked Shahzadi to go into a room to switch on the light as she herself ventured into the kitchen. Ibrar moved into the room and strangulated the little girl with Mehak’s chador, a few of which were lying around as planned. As the girl passed out, the two put her in a large shopping bag along with her shoes and books. They then wrapped the bag.
Shahzadi’s brother, who was playing outside oblivious to his sister’s fate, was summoned by Mehak to fetch her a soft drink as a decoy to allow Ibrar to make way with Shahzadi’s body unhindered. Ibrar escaped with the bag in a hired taxi.
On the way, Ibrar felt the girl was still gasping. He then asked the driver to play music but as fate would have it the music player was out of order. Ibrar, then pulled out his own mobile and began to play songs at raised volume to deflect attention.
Upon reaching close to his destination — the accommodation given by his company in Sector I-9 — Ibrar pulled out the bag containing a half conscious Shahzadi and made off for the house. There, he unfolded the bag, pulled out the barely conscious girl and raped her before wringing her neck again, probably causing her death. Ibrar then wrapped the body again and threw it along with her books and shoes in a gutter some distance from the house.
However, he had second thoughts about the evidence he might leave behind unwittingly so he took a plastic bottle, fetched some petrol and returned to pull the body out and set it on fire. He let it burn enough to remove even the remote possibility of any recognition. The remains were eventually recognized by her teeth and the burnt shirt she was wearing.
Shockingly still, it has emerged that the Ibrar-Mehak pair had already committed another murder two months before they were caught for the killing of Shahzadi.
In the earlier incident, Mehak is reported to have similarly entrapped a NUML classmate for the lust of her boyfriend. In this case, the girl in her early 20s, was the daughter of a police officer. But that crime went undetected because the girl was assumed to have died of natural causes.
The police officer had gone on Umra, leaving behind his youngest daughter — the other children are married — with her mother. As arranged with Ibrar, Mehak decided to go and stay at her friend’s house on the pretext of preparing together for their exams.
After some time, she hoodwinked her friend into taking sleeping pills as a result of which she passed out. Ibrar then appeared on the scene as planned and raped the young woman. Mehak and Ibrar then strangulated her and after Ibrar left, the next morning Mehak — acting on cue — woke up her mother, feigning something had happened to her daughter, who was not moving.
The mother was perplexed but the family did not eventually file a case, coming to the conclusion that the girl may have died of natural causes because she wasn’t keeping well.
Mehak, who was out on bail in the Shahzadi case at the time of filing this report, now faces charges of abetment to murder in both cases. She and her boyfriend have both admitted to their involvement and the police are in possession of incriminating evidence in the form of their mobile phone data — with both the statements corroborating the turn of events.
The police official said the investigators would furnish all the tangible evidence to the Supreme Court so that the rapist and his accomplice get exemplary punishment. The bereaved family is also determined never to reconcile with the criminals “even if they offered the entire wealth of the world”.
The incident has terrified the locality as some residents are now reluctant to let their children go out to school or even play. They have also expressed dismay over the callousness of the government. “This is the constituency of Chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bokhari but he didn’t bother to visit the family to offer condolences,” said Taimoor Hussain, a resident of the locality. “We hope the chief justice will dispose off the case at the earliest by awarding exemplary punishment to the guilty. Timely justice in the case will help restore the confidence of the people in the system besides alleviating their panic and fear.”