Kupwara, April 3: Six days after the throat-slit body of a minor girl was recovered in Zab village of Khurhama area in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, police on Monday announced to have worked out the case by arresting her father for the brutal crime.
Addressing reporters here, SSP Kupwara Yougal Manhas said that the accused, Mohammad Iqbal Khatana, first strangulated the 7-year-old girl before slitting her throat.
Revealing the sequence of events that lead to the murder, the SSP said that on the fateful day, Mohammad Iqbal Khatana, being driver of Passenger Vehicle (Sumo, bearing registration number JK09-4308) reached home from daily work at around 16:15 hours. “Between 1615 hours and 1800 hours, he finished doing household work, splitting fire-wood etc,” the SSP said, adding, “At around 1830 hours, he had heated argument with his wife (Nageena Begum), with whom his relationship has been strained from last one year and the couple have often witnessed arguments which resulted in minor scuffles as well.”
During the morning of March 29 too, The SSP said, the couple had heated argument after which the husband left for work.
“Showkat Khatana, brother of Iqbal reached home at around 1815 hrs and was also present when the couple again exchanged heated arguments, and at around 1840 hrs (15 minutes before Iftaar) estranged Iqbal went to the kitchen, hid the kitchen-knife in his bosom, and left the house saying that he has to fix his punctured stepney tyre,” the SSP said, adding, “Actually Iqbal was intending to kill himself. The minor girl (deceased-child) followed her father and asked for 5 Rupees, and Iqbal gave him a 10 Rs currency Note”.
Iqbal’s wife also followed him upto the courtyard, however the minor girl followed her father upto the main-road. Nageena Begum, Showket Khatna (Brother of Iqbal), Asif Khatana (Cousin of Iqbal) and Haji Salam Din Khatana (Uncle of Iqbal) had all witnessed girl following her father upto the main road, wherefrom she was no-longer visible, due to line of sight obstruction as the main-road is on higher ground.
“All the people present were of the opinion that (girl) has left with her father, who has to fix his stepney tyre at Khurhama.”
The SSP said that Iqbal took the girl in his vehicle, and reached Harden Road (crossing), then to Sewer through the link road and at 1915 hours, he reached Khurhama Bus-Stand, where he halted till 2010 hours, waiting for Isha Azaan, so that the street gets de-peopled, making it convenient to kill himself.
“As people left for Taraweeh, he drove his vehicle further to Her-Khurhama near a Transformer, where he halted the vehicle. There, out of mental anguish due to domestic issues with his wife, he suffocated (girl) for around 2-3 minutes, as a result of which (she) died on spot,” the SSP said. The incident happened at around 2020 hours, he said.
“With the dead-body, Iqbal drove back to Harden Crossing, where he parked his vehicle to the side, and with the dead body of (girl) in his arms, he walked to the left towards Tin-Shed (Power-Project) and therefrom he stealthily reached the fire-wood shed next to his uncle’s house. (Around 2030 hours),” the SSP said
“Iqbal placed the dead body in the fire-wood shed in supine position (chest facing upwards) and then using the knife he slit her throat, so that the inmates of the houses adjacent to the fire-wood shed are put to blame, saving his skin,” the SSP said, adding, “Since the knife wasn’t quite sharp, and his hands were trembling out of fear and remorse, when he placed the knife on the throat and began to cut, it slid down & the throat was slit below the first mark. Blood gushed out and its spatters got on his hands, sleeves and the bottom part of his pants, as he was in bent-position with the hands and legs close to the dead body, while carrying out the inhumane act of slitting the throat. (Around 2040 hours).”
Iqbal left the crime scene, and then cleaned the knife and his hands in the stagnated water outside the fire-wood shed, next to the bathroom, the SSP said. “Then he proceeded to the vehicle, and parked it at its usual location. Thereafter, he left for home, where he kept the knife back into the kitchen, and put on his Pheran,” the SSP said, adding, “But on seeing him without the girl, panic gripped the family and the family began searching for (the girl), and they also got three Masjids to announce the missing of (the girl) over loud-speaker, at around 2115 hours.”
Iqbal along-with few other persons reached PP Khurhama in his vehicle to lodge missing report of the girl.
“During investigations, several suspects were zeroed in. Subsequently, finger of suspicion tilted towards family especially when family members were cross checked as to sequences of girl going missing and recovery of her body,” the SSP said, adding, “Within the family also, during cross checking, girl’s father started to emerge as prime suspect.”
Subsequently, he said, during further investigation, Mohammad Iqbal “confessed” to the crime. The SSP was flanked by other members of investigation team including DySP Lolab Sarfraz Bashir, SHO Lalpora Naseer and SHO Police Post Kharhama Azhar.