‘My husband poured kerosene over me and set me on fire’

TRAL: “After my husband set me on fire and I was burning, I asked my mother-in-law whether she was happy now? Instead of trying to save me, she hurled abuses at me,” this is what a 32-year-old woman, a mother of two, had to say in her dying declaration to the police at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital on November 9.
Hours after her declaration, Nusrat Rasool, succumbed to her burns at the hospital. She had around 90 per cent burns.
The ordeal of unsuspecting Zargar family, of Kausar Bal locality in Tral town of Pulwama district, began on the evening of Sunday, November 3.
On the fateful evening, Nusrat’s younger brother Aqib Rasool Zargar got a call from his brother in law (Nusrat’s husband, MehrajuddinTrag aka MD), who asked Aqib to rush to his home and take his sister to the hospital.
“I did not know what had happened. I rushed to Trag Mohalla, where my sister lived with her husband and in-laws. I was led to the first floor of the house, where my sister was lying-almost dead-burns all over her body and face,” Aqib told Kashmir Reader, at his home in Tral.
Aqib was told that his sister was burnt by the gas stove. Unaware of what had transpired, Aqib rushed his sister to SDH Tral and then to SMHS hospital in Srinagar on the advice of doctors.
The first bell of suspicion, for Zargar family, rang when doctors at SMHS hospital rebuked their version of a gas stove accident. “The doctors straightaway said the burns were caused by kerosene and not gas,” Nusrat’s father, Ghulam Rasool Zargar, said.
Nusrat, however, was reluctant to reveal the truth, “probably because of the constant presence of her husband at the hospital”.
“The only inkling we got till the evening of November 8 was that Nusrat said she should be buried at the graveyard of her father’s family and not at the one of her in-laws, as custom might have required,” Nusrat’s father said.
The family kept asking Nusrat for the truth and finally on the evening of November 8, a day after her husband left the hospital for home, she told her brother that her husband had hit her on the head, before she was burnt.
“This prompted me to go to the nearest police station in Srinagar. The official there asked me to lodge an FIR in Tral and the next morning we lodged an FIR,” Nusrat’s elder brother, Asif Rasool, told Kashmir Reader.
The police acted promptly and dispatched a team to SMHS hospital, minutes after they lodged the FIR. And it was during her declaration to the police team that Nusrat revealed the whole truth.
“The torture was constant and every member of my husband’s family tortured me, including his mother, his brother, his brother’s wife, his father and his brother’s teenage son,” Nusrat told the police team.
A 26 minute video of Nusrat’s dying declaration to the police is in possession of Kashmir Reader as well.
On the fateful day, Nusrat revealed, her husband had an argument with her during which he hit her head with some hard object. “I was almost unconscious but I could see him pouring kerosene over me and lighting a match stick to set me on fire,” she said.
Nusrat told the police team that her six years of marriage had been an ordeal during which her greedy husband took all her belongings-including gold-and kept asking for more.
“He kept getting greedier and my torture kept getting worse. My mother in law kept fuelling the conflict by asking my husband to abandon me so that she can remarry him. My mother in law also kept torturing me, day in and day out physically and mentally, by hurling abuses at me,” Nusrat narrated on her death bed.
She pleaded the police men that her husband and his family should not be spared.
“They should never get out of the jail. They have made my life hell,” Nusrat pleaded, hours before she died on the hospital bed.
All the while, Nusrat’s brothers and father had no idea what was going on in her life.
“She did not tell anyone. Probably because she had married out of her own choice, against the wishes of her parents,” a relative told Kashmir Reader.
Now that the truth was before everyone, including the police, Nusrat’s husband Mehraj ud din Trag, his brother Younis Trag and their mother Bashira were arrested and charged with the murder of Nusrat.
The Zargar family now hopes that the truth should prevail and the killers of Nusrat should be given the stringiest of punishments, so that no other woman has to go through what she had.
“We are thankful to the police for acting so promptly and putting the killers of Nusrat behind the bars. We now hope that they are hanged so that her children get the justice they deserve,” a relative of Zargar family told Kashmir Reader.
Nusrat is survived by a 5 year old son, Ayan Mehraj and a 3 year old daughter, Kaifa Mehraj.
Police meanwhile, have maintained that Nusrat’s dying declaration was enough to nail the culprits.
“Her dying declaration is enough to nail them. The only thing we are waiting for now is the hospital report where it will be established that the burns were caused by Kerosene. But otherwise as well, nothing can save the killers,” SSP Awantipora, Tahir Saleem, told Kashmir Reader.
Nusrat’s family also hopes that nothing should save her killers.

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