END CRIME, WITH A CAPITAL P

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End crime, with a Capital P

The recent gruesome murder of a young woman from Budgam district has sent cold chills across the entire Valley. It’s time to place a big boulder on such crimes by bringing on a
quick capital punishment of the accused in the case.

Mir Tanveer

THE Kashmir Valley has been lately witnessing a sharp rise in crime across different districts. Robberies to murders, it’s all happening rapidly here. In a recent case in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, a young unmarried woman of around 30 was murdered mercilessly by a mason in the Mohanpora Ompora area. The woman was first
kidnapped and later murdered at a home after kidnapping. In this heinous case, the mason chopped off the woman’s body in parts and buried them at different locations of the area so as to hide the crime which has shaken up the very core of humanity and the Kashmiri society. The woman’s family had filed a missing report at the Police Post
Soibugh, Budgam on March 8, 2023.

The shocking case

As per family sources, the woman left home in the morninghours of March 7, 2023 to attend a computer class in a nearby computer institute as per her daily routine. But when she didnot return home way beyond her regular timings, the familytried to contact her on her phone which remained switched off.Soon, the woman’s family members, relatives and neighbours started searching for her in the vicinity but failed to find any trace of her.
Then, after the family filed a missing report at the police station concerned, the police personnel started a search operation on a fast track basis. During the search operation, certain suspicious persons were arrested by the police and were
questioned regarding the missing woman. Among the suspects, one Shabir Ahmed Wani, a mason from Mohanpora Ompora Budgam, confessed to the murder of Arifa Shafi of Soibugh Budgam following a rigorous grilling and police interrogation.
It may be mentioned here that the Budgam SHO Aftab Mir played a crucial role in the busting of the case. Also, as said the police officials, the case was solved quickly due to the active cooperation of the family during the investigation. Also, the call tracking and location tracking devices and apps helped reach the clues to the murder, informed the police.

Capital punishment: A quick must

During an interaction with the media, the woman’s brother Tanveer Khan informed that the person involved in the crime was working as a mason in the nearby area of Soibugh Budgam. He said that a majority of the people in the area know him due to his work. Khan said that the family knew the mason too but they had never expected that he was so dangerous as to commit such a heinous crime. “We are in deep shock at this a horrific killing. Our family is totally shattered,” said he. On further questioning, Khan revealed that Shabir Wani, the accused, had actually asked the family for the woman’s hand in
marriage a year ago, but the family had turned down the proposal. “But does such a refusal give someone a reason to kill someone? Where is humanity? What has become of it?” he asked emotionally.

While talking to the media, SSP Budgam Syed Thair Geelani said that the police were able to crack the case in a very short period of time after a missing report was filed. Multiple
suspects were arrested in connection with the case but later, following a serious questioning session, the main culprit Shabir Ahmed Wani had confessed to his crime of murdering Aria Shafi of Soibugh Budgam. Further investigation had him confess that, using a sharp cutter, he had chopped off the woman’s body into different parts and buried them at different locations so as to hide the heinous crime.

The police went on to search all these locations and collected the body parts and then, after performing all medico-legal formalities, had handed over the body to the family for burial. The SSP assured that the police will do their level best in ensuring justice for the victim.

Humanity in shock
The case has shaken up whoever has heard of it. The woman’s native village of Soibugh  Budgam was shocked at the brutal murder. Men, women and children of the village took to the roads to protest against the culprit and seek justice for the victim and her family. The news spread to the other parts of the district too and within hours, thousands of people assembled at Soibugh Budgam to attend the funeral prayers of the murdered woman.
There was hardly anyone who did not have a moist eye while bidding farewell to the woman whose life had ended on such a sad note and with such cruelty. Some senior citizens assembled at the funeral said this murder was among the rarest crimes they had ever witnessed. This murder shows the lowest levels of barbaric violence our society
has touched, they said. They also demanded that the murderer be not spared at any cost and be given capital punishment without wasting much time so that other such criminals learn a lesson.

The victim’s sister said that she had lost her elder sister to a gruesome murder which questions humanity and human rights. “Our loss is irreparable and cannot be undone, but our serious demand is that the culprit be given capital punishment as soon as possible. Without strict punishment for such criminals, our society will lose to such beasts who fear nothing while carrying out such inhuman acts,” she asserted. Another woman present at the funeral said that the murder had sent shockwaves across Kashmir. She said women face so much in our society – from domestic violence to harassment in public transport or at work places and that they need to be given protection against these crimes so that their dignity, respect and honour are safeguarded. This murder has only exposed the degradation of human values in our society, especially against women, she added.
Reacting to the case, Inayat Malik, a senior lawyer from Budgam District Court, said: “The first and foremost step is to constitute a special Investigation team headed by an SP,
supervised by the prosecution wing of the court so to properly investigate the case. This shall lay a strong foundation for the conviction of the accused. After the charge sheet is filed, a speedy trial should be conducted so that there remain minimal chances of the accused influencing witnesses”. Dr Tanveer Hayat, a professor and researcher said, “We all
need to raise our voice against this gruesome murder. Our women are suffering a lot in different ways across their personal lives and careers. So the role of a civil society, NGOs
and other women rights movements is to highlight the suffering of women and provide them help and assistance in overcoming difficult situations prevailing in our societal setup”.
Another woman right activist said that exemplary punishment was the need of the hour in response to such crimes in the society. She said that special and fast track trails should be held in courts with special sessions, in presence of the judiciary so that these cases don’t remain pending for long. The judiciary needs to prioritise their dealing with incidents of violence against women, she added. It is indeed crucial that we inculcate a collective responsibility and collective consciousness if we want positive changes in our society. Without that, nothing is possible. A certain code of ethics and personality development of every individual is the way.

This case has generated a widespread condemnation coming from different stakeholders ranging from the civil society to NGOs to political parties in Kashmir. Candle light marches were held in different parts of Kashmir as a protest against this
horrific crime. The woman who was done to death in such a brutal way cannot be brought back. But what we can try and bring is a change so that anyone who even considers committing such a crime will think many times before such an act. This will be possible only if a quick capital punishment is meted out to the culprit.

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