Hang Till Death

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Twelve years after a six-year-old baby girl was kidnapped, raped, killed and thrown into a trench, the court awarded capital punishment to the convict. The rare decision is perhaps the first case in which hanging was ordered in last 30 years, reports Saima Bhat

Lost in the struggle to forget everything, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Dar, 70, is grieving again. Glued to a corner of his Gulshan Abad home in Mehjoor Nagar, Dar is inconsolable. The situation has forced a father to remember every single detail about his six-year-old daughter, who was kidnapped, brutally raped, killed, packed in a bag and dumped into a drain.

It was the court verdict that opened the old wounds, 12 years after the tragedy. As Dar heard about the judgment, he turned ‘insane’, over why such a huge tragedy hit his cute daughter, who knew nothing.

“I keep on roaming just to forget that,” a grim-faced Dar said. “She was the part of my heart, so beautiful and innocent. She was blonde like other siblings but she was my dearest among all.”

The Verdict

Tahir Khurshid Raina, the second additional sessions Judge Srinagar

On December 30, 2017, two years after the last hearing of the case (FIR 180 of 2005 for rape and murder), the district court Srinagar, sentenced the convict, Farooq Ahmad Pinzoo to death for raping and murdering the little baby, let us call her HD.

Tahir Khurshid Raina, the second additional sessions Judge Srinagar, termed the case as “rarest of rare” and passed the judgment that “He shall be hanged till death.”

“A little doll (victim) of just six years of age, who was yet to bloom and add to the beauty of the world was crushed to death in the most horrendous and barbaric manner in 2005 by the convict,” the judgment reads. “After doing this highly detestable act of extreme depravity, convict wrapped her body in a sack and threw it in a trench to conceal it from the eyes of the people around.”

The case argued by at least eight Public Prosecutors (PP) in last one decade eventually emerged as the first case in three decades in which death sentence was awarded.

“It had to be a death sentence because it was rarest in all cases. It involved the rape and murder of a six-year-old. You won’t find any such case,” said Mujeeb Andrabi, the incumbent PP, who argued the case.

Twelve Years Ago

It was one of the Sundays of 2005. Date, I don’t remember, says Dar. HD was six-year-old and a class 1st student. In the neighbourhood, Dar remembers a sheep herd was attacked by a pack of dogs in the afternoon. With no men around, women took the charge and rushed to help the sheep owner.

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“Men, mostly are out by that time so all the ladies in the locality went to help him so that he could save his sheep,” says Dar. “The baby had gone out to look for her mother.”

Not aware of the direction in which her mother had gone, HD, instead of right, took a left turn and reached on the main road. Unable to find her mother, she opted to return from the back side of her home. This changed life of Dar’s forever as his daughter did not return home.

A little while later, there was panic. Her parents, siblings and a friend of her brother started searching her in the locality. “We couldn’t find her anywhere,” said a family member.

As the night set in, the family preferred to spend the night outside on Veranda and hunt for clues. The wait continued till the dawn. Next day Pinzoo’s brother, who as per locals is mentally retarded, had got a piece of cloth on a stick. Waving around, he was walking with that stick in hand. “He first burnt it and then covered it with soil,” Dar remembers.

Restless father went to place, dug out the soil and took the piece of cloth. Once in his hand, Dar cried loudly, “This is a piece of my baby’s trousers.”

Unable to extract anything out of a mentally unsound person, Dars’ spent next five days searching the babies almost everywhere.

Finally, on Friday, locals blocked the road.  “It was Friday afternoon when all the locals had blocked Rambagh road and were protesting against the inaction of the government,” Dar said. “I was home as a day before I had fractured my foot when a vehicle had overstepped it while we were seeking whereabouts of our daughter.”

“Suddenly there was shouting outside. When I went out, I saw a sack floating in a trench that was very close to her home,” says Bashir Ahmad, one of the friend’s of HDs brother, who is now her brother-in-law.

The bag was stinking and had blood oozing out. “Once we dared to open the sack, there was a hue and cry everywhere as many thousand people had surrounded the sack. It was opened by police and it had the body of HD with blood still oozing out and her arms, legs broken” says Bashir.

Next day police set up a special investigation camp and arrested 72 youth and various women. Those detained included Bashir as well. “The real culprit had given my name as well because I was very fond of her,” Bashir said. “She was a dear kid and she too used to come to my baker shop, where her brother was my partner and a colleague as well.”

After 16 days of their arrest and stay at police station Saddar, the police zeroed in on Pinzoo and allowed him to meet his family. As per the strategy, police asked Pinzoo to sit at a particular place on a bed where they had already set a microphone. “In the meeting, Pinzoo had discussed the incident with his mother and police got the major lead. Same day all of us were released and the case started with the arrest of the real culprit,” Bashir said.

Pinzoo, a neighbour had lured the baby with a chocolate, held her hand and took her away while she was on her way.

Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Dar father of the victim.

The Struggle

A native of Yarikhan (Budgam), Dar after leaving his job of three years in BSF, 30 years ago shifted his home to Srinagar. His family comprised his wife, Zoona, and nine children, five sons and four daughters.

Living a modest life, Dar decided to live in a rented accommodation in Mehjoor Nagar. He started working as a labourer. Zoona too chipped in to help him in raising the large family by working as a domestic help.

After few years, Dar got a job at a wholesale coal shop and meanwhile, Zoona was expecting again. This time she delivered HD. Dar considers her the symbol of his ‘good luck’.

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“I don’t know how but every day I started earning Rs 3000 or Rs 4000 after she was born. And just three years after her birth I managed to buy a small piece of land, of 7 marlas, where I built two rooms to start with and we got our permanent address in the city.”

Poverty prevented most of Dar’s children to go to school but HD and her elder sister were sent to a local government school.

Living happily, the incident left them devastated.

Shattered by the loss, Dar continuously followed the case, initially. For a year, he was a regular visitor in the Budgam’s district court. A year later, Dar landed in the SMHS hospital for various ailments. “My family believed I won’t last long now. But doctors did not lose hope and had a belief that I was doing well and they discharged me.”

Once home, Dar’s wife Zoona lost consciousness. She was rushed to the same hospital from where Dar was discharged and in the same vehicle that had brought him in. A night stay later, Zoona was brought home dead. This shattered Dars’ further and Dar stopped going to the court.

Lost Hope

Dar had no idea that the case was going on. He was actually trying to forget things. “I had no hope,” Dar said, insisting the verdict was unbelievable. “A year back I saw the culprit in Rambagh and we believed he has been set free.”

In between, there were pulls and pressures on Dar. Pinzoo’s family sent President of Mohalla Committee asking Dar to withdraw the case. Dar refused. But he remembers police making a solemn promise of justice to him. PP Andrabi hopes the High Court will uphold the trial court decision.

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