Shaukat Ali Mukadam, the father of slain Noor Mukadam, recorded in an Islamabad court on Saturday his statement in the murder case of his daughter and demanded capital punishment for Zahir Jaffer — the primary accused.
Noor, 27, was found murdered at a residence in the capital's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20, 2021. A first information report was registered the same day against Zahir — who was arrested from the site of the murder — under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of the victim's father.
A trial court on October 14 had indicted Zahir along with 11 others — his parents, their three household staff including Iftikhar (watchman), Jan Muhammad (gardener) and Jameel (cook), Therapyworks CEO Tahir Zahoor and employees Amjad, Dilip Kumar, Abdul Haq, Wamiq and Samar Abbas — in the case. The murder trial formally began on Oct 20.
Additional Sessions Judge Ata Rabbani presided over the hearing today during which Shaukat said that he did not have a "personal enmity" with anyone, adding that "my daughter was unjustly killed".
"Zahir Jaffer should be given a death sentence," he said.
At the hearing's outset, Shaukat requested the judge to overlook any lapses in protocol since it was his first time appearing in a courtroom. He proceeded to recount the day's events when Noor was murdered, saying he and his wife had left for some chores on July 19 and when he returned back to their house, Noor was not there.
The court was told in the testimony that Noor had still not returned when Shaukat's wife came back, which worried the two and prompted them to call her but Noor's mobile was turned off. Shaukat said it was then that he started searching for her and when Noor finally picked up her phone, she said she was going to Lahore with her friends for a few days and told her parents to not worry.
"[On] July 20 — I know Zahir's family — Zahir called me on two numbers in the afternoon and said Noor was not with him," he said, adding that later in the day at 10pm he got a call from Kohsar police station informing him that his daughter had been killed and asking him to visit the police station.
Shaukat said he reached the police station and was taken to a house that belonged to Zahir, adding that when he went inside he saw that Noor "was brutally murdered and decapitated".
He said he identified Noor's body and gave his signed statement to Assistant Sub-Inspector Zubair Mazhar and later signed off on a report on the cause of death. Shaukat added he had handed over Noor's body for a postmortem on July 21.
He recalled that on July 23 he was called for an investigation and recovery of Noor's mobile and added that when he visited Kohsar police station the next day during Zahir's interrogation, the accused revealed that he had called Noor over on July 18 and confiscated her mobile prior to killing her. Upon visiting Zahir's residence, the phone was found in a closet, Shaukat said.
Basharatullah Khan, the counsel for Zahir's father and co-accused Zakir Jaffer, then conducted his cross-examination of Shaukat's account.
He asked Shaukat to confirm if it was usual for Noor to leave their house without informing them. He also questioned Shaukat about the placed he had searched Noor at and whether he had provided the names of her friends in the investigation.
"No I did not name any friend and I did not search [for Noor] after the phone call came," Shaukat replied.
Therapyworks owner Tahir Zahoor's lawyer Akram Qureshi conducted his cross-examination during which Shaukat mentioned a number of details that he had not mentioned before, including the contact numbers of Noor's friends and the timing of her call and the timing of Zahir's call.
"You misrepresented in court that she (Noor) called you," Qureshi said as Shaukat denied doing so.
Shaukat said he did not remember the name of the police officer who had called him. "I received such [horrifying] news that I don't remember the name," he said. He added that he did not remember the name of the officer he met at the police station and left without registering a case.
Shaukat said he had seen the CCTV footage on the night of July 20 and in the morning on July 21. He said he did not know any of the other accused apart from the Jaffer family and had not had their identification parade carried out.
Meanwhile, a junior lawyer for Sikandar Zulqarnain, Zahir's lawyer, presented a medical report in court. "Sikandar Zulqarnain is afflicted by Covid-19," he said.
Meanwhile, the court was informed that Zahir's lawyer was afflicted with Covid-19.
At this, the judge adjourned the hearing till January 17 after no objection from other lawyers following a short discussion on how a hearing with a Covid-positive lawyer would be possible.