For those who were following the case of poet and CSP officer Mustafa Zaidi’s mysterious death by reading about it in the newspapers might have been expecting what they read in Dawn on Oct 26, 1970. Vera Zaidi, widow of the poet, said at a press conference that she was not satisfied with the manner in which the police were investigating the cause of her husband’s death. She suspected some persons wanted to eliminate him for “unknown reasons”. Ms Zaidi had returned from Germany a few days back and the presser was held at the residence of her husband’s nephew.

She was surprised that while the police were keen to get statements from her husband’s relatives, they had not, so far, paid required attention to those connected closely with the tragedy. Answering the question whether she was approached by the police for a statement, Ms Zaidi said she was but could not do so for health reasons. She argued the police did not seriously follow up some of the clues they got after the ‘first information’. For instance, no fingerprints were obtained. Similarly, the fact that the telephone receiver was found ‘displaced’ from the cradle seemed to have gone into the background. She also pointed out that injuries on [some parts of] Mr Zaidi’s body were not investigated.

Speaking in Urdu, the German-born Ms Zaidi maintained that her husband did not commit suicide. She told the media that she preferred to go back to West Germany because after the dismissal of Mr Zaidi from government service the couple was apprehensive of its effects on their children. The plan was the he would also join the family in Germany. In that connection, she was unable to understand why her last letter to Mr Zaidi was not even opened by him.

On Oct 28, the report of the chemical analysis of stomach wash of Shahnaz (the woman who was found unconscious at the death scene of Mr Zaidi) was submitted to the Crime Branch. According to it, Shahnaz Saleem took chlordiazepoxide (trade name: Librium) on that fateful day. And the report of the chemical analysis on the bed-sheet revealed that it contained “blood marks” and “some other marks”. This caused a new turn in the investigation. A spokesman for the branch said unless she [Shahnaz] could explain why she took Librium, chances of “foul play” could not easily be ruled out.

On Oct 30, a news item revealed that the prosecution agency had been handed over the case file of Mr Zaidi’s death to examine its pros and cons. It was learnt that the agency after studying the file had opined that it was a case of suicide and not murder in view of the evidence it had. It had come to light during the investigation that Mr Zaidi [prior to his passing] went to a very close friend of his and gave something to him saying “there is no certainty of life, please see that these are delivered to my children at Germany and ‘forgive me’ for any fault of mine.” The day before his death he wrote a couplet in his diary which narrated a death and its aftermath with the request that the same should be inscribed on his grave in bold letters.

In other news, the police, despite the criticism, in those days were also known for their preemptive efforts. The general election was round the corner, so they had to be on their toes. On Oct 31, a source told the media the Sindh Police continued to check the stocks of local arms dealers for any possible illegalities. They were carrying out an extensive and thorough examination of imported arms shipments lying in the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) godowns to ensure that no arms were being brought into the country without proper documentation.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2020