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Jammu and Kashmir Police have cracked down a murder mystery that involved a wife killing her husband with help of her 'Maulvi' lover. A woman named Asifa and her paramour, Moulvi Tanveer Bhat, have been arrested for murdering Abiroo Shafi Bhat of Khwajapora, Nowgam, on March 10.

The two accused, after committing the crime, had tried to present the death as a natural one. However, the wife's suspicious behaviour ended up falling into the hands of the law. Apparently, Abiroo came to know about Tanveer and Asifa's illicit relationship, and thus, the duo strangled him when everybody else was sleeping.

The incident

On March 11, Asifa had called her brother-in-law, who lives next door and told him, "Your brother is not waking up from sleep." She had also ringed up her parents and father-in-law who live nearby. 

The couple and their seven-year-old daughter lived separately and on the fateful night, the child was left with her maternal grandparents at Aloochi Bagh.

The family buried Abiroo believing that he had died of natural causes. Many ascribed it to heart attack although he had no history of heart ailment or any major disease. No doctor was called in nor was Abiroo taken to any hospital. But those who performed the last ablution and the family members, who were present at the time of ablution, said that the body had become stiff and was unusually cold. They had also noticed some marks on the neck but did not suspect any foul play.

Suspicion raised by family members

The family members and those who came to console the family began asking various questions regarding the sudden and untimely death.

Asifa was asked about WhatsApp and Facebook, which were missing from Abiroo's phone. He had sent a WhatsApp message to a friend a few hours before his death. One of her uncles had asked Asifa if she did not feel for a second that she was sleeping next to a dead person through the entire night. According to Abiroo's father, the uncle's query turned her furious and she told her mother to tell him not to come again.

There were other red flags that made the family members increasingly suspicious of Asifa. She was not as distraught as a wife who had just lost her husband with whom she lived for 12 years. They were not only married for 12 years but had also been in a relationship for several years before marriage. They had married despite objections by their families. While the family was mourning, Asifa had also sold off a golden bangle that was a gift by Abiroo.

From the third day of Abiroo's death, Asifa had been using her phones a lot, which was thought of unbecoming for a widow.

The family's suspicion intensified when the co-accused, Moulvi Tanveer Bhat (Lelhari), visited the family on the third day of Abiroo's death and delivered a moving sermon to the mourners. According to the family, the Moulvi then went to the women's tent to condole the widow and her mother. The family said he had hugged them both.

As the family's suspicion grew, they called Asifa's father, brother and uncles and talked about her behaviour. They also told them about certain events in the past that pointed to her extra-marital indiscretions. Her family members were specifically asked to inquire from her the excessive phone use and other markers that raised suspicion. She flatly denied. 

Police investigation

On May 14, Abiroo's father Muhammad Shafi Bhat filed a complaint with Nowgam police station suspecting foul play in the death. On the basis of this complaint, the police started inquest proceedings under section 174 CrPC.

On May 26, a team of forensic experts and doctors from the health department exhumed the body and conducted a post-mortem. Although the final report is yet to be received, but the initial findings revealed that the prima facie cause of death was strangulation.

The Jammu and Kashmir then registered a case of murder and started the investigation.

Initially, the Maulvi denied everything and the call records of the SIM that he was using did not yield much information. Neither did the phone of Asifa yield anything significant.

However, further investigation revealed many aspects that created direct suspicion towards the two accused. Finally, Asifa and Moulvi confessed to the crime. 

Conspiracy and murder

During the investigation, it came to the fore that Asifa was caught red-handed by Abiroo while talking to Moulvi on phone, a day before he gave the number to one of his cousins for fetching details. Asifa felt annoyed and angered at this behaviour, and proceeded to her maternal home and called up Moulvi. The duo hatched a conspiracy to kill Abiroo and as per the plan, Asifa kept her minor girl child at the maternal home. The murder plan was executed between 12 and 12.30 am on the night of March 10 after Asifa gave a glass of milk stupefied with sedatives to Abiroo.

The Moulvi jumped over the wall of the house and entered the room through a window left open by Asifa. When Abiroo was in deep slumber and too sedated to resist, Moulvi strangled him with the assistance of Asifa. The Moulvi stayed in the house till early morning before jumping out of the same wall. He took a train from Nowgam railway station for his home at Pulwama.

In their confession, the two accused said they were planning to marry and were in a relationship for more than a year. The Moulvi, who was very popular in the locality, used to deliver Friday sermons in the nearby mosque and Abiroo had invited him for lunch on several occasions. Abiroo had probably got a whiff of the illicit relationship between the two.

Asifa has been sent to judicial custody at Central Jail Srinagar while the Moulvi is still under police custody with Nowgam police station.