For the love of money

She loved her car. She loved to spend, a lot, and she wanted more. Even the love for her children did not deter her from planning to kill her husband, their father. Ikhlaq Qadri reports.

Young, beautiful and ambitious, she wanted all the world and she could not settle for less and in her case it was enough to provide her a good house, a luxury car, which she drives very fast, and a lot of cash to expend. But the envy of her sisters doing better in their lives depressed her. Hasina Badroo, just past 30, wanted much more. After trying a hand at business twice unsuccessfully, the mother of four children incurred some debts and thought of a plan to pay them off and get rich fast. However, the plan envisaged killing the man she is married to.

In the second case of its kind, a women hired assassins to get her husband killed. The hired guns made two unsuccessful attempts on Ghulam Mohiudin Akhoon’s life, in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Police have arrested the woman and the hired guns, except one Showkat Ahmad Khan who is absconding. Five years ago another woman in north Kashmir’s Handwara area allegedly got her two husbands, both local armymen, killed for inheriting their property and receiving compensation money paid to families of slain troopers.

An ambitious young woman from a well to do Sopore family, married Ghulam Mohiudin Akhoon, an engineer working in the government. The woman, Hasina, alleges that Akhoon was twice her age at the time of their marriage in 1995.

“She is an ambitious woman. She drives a luxury car. She was jealous of her six sisters who were doing well and wanted to be rich. Though by normal Kashmiri standards her husband can be called a rich man,” says her neighbour at Model Town, Sopore, who does not want to be named.

Hasina drove her children to the school in a Mahindra Logan luxury car and allegedly used to shop heavily. “She used to drive very fast.

Hasina had started some boutique business in 2001, which did not do well and had to be shut down. She allegedly told police that her husband forced her to shut down the business.

Almost ten years later, in February 2010, she again started a business, reportedly, without telling her husband. Her husband came to know about it when during the summer agitation customers would come to their home. Hasina alleges that her husband again coerced her into shutting down the business making her suffer huge losses.

To pay off her debts incurred by shutting down of her business and living a lavish life, she sold off two kanals of land in Srinagar belonging to her husband.

“Hasina took an advance of Rs 5 lakh through brokers for the land,” a junior level police officer investigating the case said.

However, Akhoon refused to sell the land. As the deal could not materialise, the broker, Ghulam Ahmed Hajam son of Abdul Karim of Delina Baramulla started pressurising Hasina to either conclude the deal or pay back double the advance amount.

“Though she tried her best, she could not return the money to the broker,” says the neighbour.

Police investigators later claimed to have found that broker Hajam had conspired with the woman to eliminate Akhoon so that the property could be sold off.
According to police Hajam introduced her to Nazir Ahmed Beigh son of Abdul Hamid Beigh of Fetehpora Baramulla.

Nazir roped in Mohammad Shafi son of Khazir Mohmad Rather, and Bashir Ahmed residents of Fatehpora Baramulla and Showkat Ahmed Khan son of Ali Mohammad of Khanpora Baramulla and Mohmad Iqbal Dar son of Mohmad Sultan of Kralhar Baramulla, to eliminate engineer Akhoon.

The group of hired guns who according to newspaper reports are former militants or counterinsurgents made an unsuccessful bid on Akhoon’s life on January 27, 2011 in connivance with his wife at his residence at Model Town Sopore.

After the attempt the group remained constantly in touch with Hasina and the broker on telephone and planned another attack.

In the evening of February 15, 2011, the gang went to Akhoon’s ancestral house at Wagoora where the engineer had gone to escape further attacks on his life.
The hired gunmen opened fire from a window. While Akhoon escaped unhurt, his 19-year-old sister and an 8-year niece sustained bullet injuries.

Later the police arrested the accused Hasina and her co-conspirators except Showkat, who police claimed is a released militant and an active over ground worker of Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The neighbours of the Akhoon’s at Model Town Sopore termed Akhoon as a God fearing, simple man, who they say married the wrong woman.
 
Prior to the armed attack on Akhoon, a fire had engulfed the upper story of their house where he was sleeping, say the neighbours. They suspect, now, that the fire could have been result of some subversion. A neighbour had spotted the fire and raised alarm saving Akhoon’s life.

Hasina is out on bail. However, a distraught husband and shocked children, are yet to understand what hit them.

“Things would have been quite different if she was not so ambitious and greedy…they would have had a happy life,” quips her neighbour.

Though Akhoon survived, there has been one reported case in Kashmir where a women got her husband murdered for money and property.

Muheena Begum alias Big Bubble of Handwara in north Kashmir, allegedly got her two husbands murdered to seek compensation from the government and inherit their property.

Muheena got her first husband Tariq Ahmad Sheikh, an army man, killed and then married Tasveer Hussian Malik, an ex-army man who worked with 20 and 22 Rashtriya Rifles. She got him killed as well by unknown gunmen in June 2006. She was 28, then.

She had received an amount of Rs 13 lakh as ex-gratia relief from the government after the death of her first husband.

After getting her husband murdered she lured Tasveer, who divorced his first wife to marry Muheena. Greedy for money, she ensnared other people and hatched a conspiracy to kill her second husband dubbing it a militant attack in a bid to seek compensation from the government and inherit his property.

Police arrested Muheena and her four accomplices including one Raju Singh who had hired two gunmen to kill Tasveer Ahmad Malik.

In a recent murder case of a businessman, Nazir Ahmad Lone, in north Kashmir’s Kreeri area police found his local competitors had hired assassins to kill him.

Investigators were surprised for there was no apparent reason for the murder and there were no militants active in the area. During the probe it was found that assassins hired to settle personal scores, with the attacks passed off as perpetrated by militants.

The killing of businessman Nazir Ahmad Lone on February 28 this year, was reportedly orchestrated by one of his local competitors, who is believed to have hired a former overground militant and police source, Mudasir Nazir, for Rs 25,000. Nazir in turn engaged “a small group of released militants who committed the crime and later rejoined militant ranks once police cracked the case and identified them”.

IGP, Kashmir zone, S M Sahai said that this trend reflects criminalisation of society, where the presence of freely available weapons for hire has made murder an easy tool to settle personal scores.

The empty cartridges recovered from spot were rusted and the shooter was not wearing any mask.

“The catridges were rusted, inferring that it was some old arms and ammunition…, pointing a finger towards released militants; then as the gunmen were without masks when they shot Lone…, this showed that the assassin was not from the locality and was an expert.”

When the police started questioning the overground workers and released militants, the assailants in desperation sent a threatening letter to witnesses. “The letter was seized and… the letterhead was of Tehreeq-ul-Mujahideen, which is no longer an active (militant) organisation,” the police report says.

Police also found that the person from whom the letter allegedly originated, Bashir Ahmad Bukhari, was an overground worker earlier. His cellphone records showed during the time of the killing, he made “an exceptionally high number of phone calls”.

Bukhari interrogation led police to Ashraf Mir of Kalantra, from whose shop the two pistols allegedly used in Lone’s murder were recovered. Police claimed that one Hilal Ahmad Pala was behind Lone’s killing. Both Pala and the other main accused, Mudasir Nazir, are absconding.

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