ANANTNAG: There were celebrations in the house of Abdul Gani Thokar in Adalach village of Srigufwara on April 13, 2013, the wedding day of his elder daughter Afroza, then 26. Abdul Gani was joyous that he had found a good match for his daughter. The groom’s family had said they would not accept even the smallest thing as dowry.
Not four years had passed since that happy day when the bodies of Afroza and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Zaira were recovered from the Jhelum near Semthan on February 26 this year, twenty days after she had gone missing from her in-laws’ home at Faqeerpora Nambal.
Afroza’s ordeal at her in-laws’ house began three months after her marriage, when her mother-in-law started taunting her over the lack of dowry, Abdul Gani told Kashmir Reader.
“Her mother-in-law began saying to her, ‘What shikas (derogatory term for ill manners) you have brought from your parental home,’” Afroza’s shattered father said.
As the relationship further strained, Afroza and her husband began living separately with their infant daughter in a small, single room. Afroza kept supporting her husband in tough times and agreed to all that her husband asked from her.
“She even handed him all her golden ornaments which he sold to invest money in his business,” Abdul Gani said.
With the passage of time, her husband also started humiliating and beating Afroza over petty issues. Afroza never disclosed this to her parents. “We came to know about it when we once saw her with a bruise around her eye. She then confessed she was hit by her husband,” Afroza’s brother, Irshad Ahmad Thokar, said.
After this revelation, Irshad did not let his sister go back to her husband’s home. He was about to lodge an FIR against her husband but his father stopped him.
“I stopped my son because Afroza’s husband came to our home and apologised. He promises that he would never do such a thing again. Now I repent my decision,” Abdul Gani lamented.
Last month, in February, Afroza visited her parents’ home and stayed there for a few days. On February 6, her mother accompanied her in the afternoon to her husband’s home. Late in the evening, Afroza’s brother said, her husband called on the phone of Afroza’s sister and told her that Afroza was constantly weeping and would not talk.
“We insisted that he hand over the phone to Afroza, but he refused, saying she did not wish to talk,” Irshad said. “Then we asked him to let us talk to her daughter Zaira. But he again refused and disconnected the phone.”
Next evening, Irshad said, Afroza’s husband called again and said that Afroza was not at home. “He asked us if she had come to our residence,” Irshad said.
Next morning, Afroza’s father and brother went to the police station to lodge a complaint. “But we were shocked to learn that her husband had already filed a missing report there,” Irshad said.
On February 26, the bodies of mother and daughter were recovered from the Jhelum. According to Afroza’s brother, Zaira was found tied to the belly of her mother so tightly that doctors found it hard to untie the knot.
“Both of them were bleeding when their bodies were recovered. The people who spotted the bodies and fished them out told us that both of them seemed to have been thrown into water recently. Had they been in water for twenty days, their bodies and clothes would have been drenched in mud and their blood washed away,” Abdul Gani said.
“I am hopeful that the police will bring the culprits to book,” Abdul Gani said.
Police have already arrested several people, including the husband of the victim and Afroza’s father-in-law and mother-in-law. Now the forensic report is awaited to carry forward the investigation.
Afroza had a degree of Bachelors in Education (BEd) and also an MA in Sociology. She had recently started pursuing a distance-education MA course in Urdu.