HYDERABAD: A judicial probe into the death of Naila Rind, a student of Sindhi department in Sindh University, who was found hanging in her hostel room on Jan 1 this year, concludes the student had committed suicide due to exploitation and blackmailing by a man who had befriended her on WhatsApp.

The report of the probe conducted by Hyderabad district and sessions judge Amjad Ali Bohio on the directives of a division bench of Sindh High Court comprising Justices Salahuddin Panhwar and Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui on Sept 26 was submitted to the bench on Monday, which adjourned the matter to Dec 12.

The Hyderabad circuit bench of the SHC had ordered the judicial probe while hearing a constitutional petition filed by Qirat Fatima and others through Ali Ahmed Palh advocate.

According to the report, the judge did not find any reason other than suicide behind Naila’s death and observed that no one appeared before him voluntarily except a local reporter, Abdul Hafeez Brohi. He issued notices to individuals related to the case to seek their assistance and examined 35 witnesses during the probe, he said.

Apparently referring to previous reports on Naila’s death which had hinted that her body was not found in the room originally allotted to her, the judge observed that “it becomes abundantly clear that room No. 36 of block-A on the first floor of the undergraduate section in Marvi Hostel was allotted to Naila in 2016.

It has been confirmed through the allotment order which was verified by me. She was in occupation of the room on the day of the incident as well,” said the judge.

He said: “In this regard, it may be stated that nothing has come on record from any quarter including her father, brothers and other relatives to claim that she was in occupation of any other room of the hostel or any other house or place on the day of the incident”.

He said that four students Rabbia Pathan, Farhat Jabeen Arain, Kiran and Saba Bhellar shared the room with Naila. Rabbia and Saba recorded their statements, saying they had left the hostel before the incident occurred but the other two roommates did not appear before the judge despite being issued notices.

The judge referred to a statement of then Jamshoro SSP retired Capt Tariq Wilayat in his report. “On my specific question as to what was his opinion on the cause of the student’s death after conclusion of probe by investigating officer in the case, the SSP’s reply was that ‘in the light of all evidence (digital) and statements of different persons brought on record the IO opined that compelling cause of Naila’s death is deception and blackmailing by accused Anis Khaskheli,” said the judge.

The report quoted then SHO of Jamshoro police station Tahir Hussain as saying: “I received photographs through SSP which were retrieved from mobile sets of the accused and Naila and proved the accused and the deceased exchanged photos through WhatsApp”.

The accused had also admitted the photos were exchanged but insisted it was not the cause of Naila’s death, the judge said.

He said that Naila’s brother Nisar Ahmed had stated in the FIR that his sister had complained to the family when she had last visited her home that someone was harassing and issuing threats to her on phone.

“On the other hand, it has come on record including through statements of the accused that he and Naila had friendly relationship and they exchanged photos,” stated the report.

On the basis of the evidence he had collected thus far the judge raised two points — in what circumstances the girl was found dead and what could be the reason of her death.

About point number one, he said, he recorded statement of warden Mahjabeen Khatti, who deposed that she found Naila hanging in her room. “I knocked at her room’s door but nobody responded. Then I peeped inside and saw her hanging. I rushed to provost Dr Aneela, who then informed the authorities,” the judge quoted Ms Khatti as saying. Dr Aneela Naz Soomro corroborated Ms Khatti’s version before the judge.

“I found her hanging with a dupatta from a ceiling fan,” said Dr Aneela.

“The room was bolted from inside. Police had to break it open and I and Prof Dr Misbah Bibi helped police place the body on an iron cot,” she said.

The judge said that he himself had visited Naila’s room accompanied by then SSP, then SHO and registrar and found no other source of entrance except the room’s main door.

“Thus in the light of whatever is stated here it is evident at this stage that on Jan 1, 2017, Naila was present in her room which was bolted from inside,” he said.

The accused, Anis Ahmed, said that being an SU student he joined a WhatsApp group of which Naila was a member and he used to share messages and photos on the group. After 15 days of chatting he met Naila for five minutes in the SU and then kept exchanging messages, he said.

The judge referred to report of Naila’s autopsy conducted by Dr Sameena Rajput, which concluded that “deceased expired due to constriction of neck by something leading to asphyxia and is sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature resulting from anti-mortem hanging (suicidal)”.

The judge said that Naila’s photo that showed her hanging in her room and went viral had hurt feelings of her family. This photograph was taken and shared on social media by an official of Special Branch, Ali Hyder.

The judge recommended to Sindh IGP to hold an inquiry against the official and award him appropriate punishment if his crime was proved.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2017

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