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Senior judge, son booked in double murder case

October 30, 2012

Ismail Sheikh accused judge Saleem Qambrani, who lives next to the house of Dethos, of being responsible for the double murder.     — File Photo

HYDERABAD: Saleem Qambrani, a senior civil judge of Jacobabad district, and his son have been booked for their alleged role in a plot to murder a young couple.

SSP Pir Farid Jan Sarhandi, who had detected the case following a presidential directive, said Samia Detho and her husband Isthiaq Ahmed Sheikh had been allegedly killed by the girl’s parents and their accomplices about two months ago in Mori Mangar area of Tando Hyder. He said the judge’s son, Bilawal Qambrani, had been arrested.

The girl, who was eight months pregnant, had a miscarriage when she was tortured before being shot dead, according to Ismail Sheikh, complainant in the double murder case and brother of Ishtiaq, Samina’s husband.

“We will file an application in the Sindh High Court on Tuesday seeking interrogation of Judge Saleem Qambrani,” SSP Sarhandi said. Police picked up Haji Detho, the main accused, a day before Eidul Azha. He confessed to having killed Ishtiaq, a son of former journalist Ahmed Khan Sheikh, and made startling disclosures during interrogation.

Twenty-two people have been named in the FIR lodged by Ismail Sheikh with the Tandojam police. Three of them, including Bilawal Qambrani, Haji Detho and Mohammad Raheem, have been arrested.

The girl’s father Ahmed Detho and his son Mushaib Detho are believed to be hiding in Islamabad.

Manzoor Wahu, the investigating officer in the case, will move an application in the court for permission to exhume the girl’s body and for DNA sampling.

The accused told investigators that the girl had been buried in a village graveyard, while the body of Ishtiaq, the husband, was abandoned in an uninhabited place.

“The accused told police that after torturing and killing Ishtiaq they threw his body in a jungle. Wild animals have devoured his body and only limbs and bones were found,” Ismail told Dawn at his home in Mori Mangar as tears rolled down his cheeks.

A pall of gloom hung over Mori Mangar village where the Dethos and the Sheikhs live a stone’s throw from each other.

Ismail Sheikh accused judge Saleem Qambrani, who lives next to the house of Dethos, of being responsible for the double murder. “He had been pressuring us since Samia eloped with Ishtiaq on Oct 10 last year. After our family members were picked up by Dethos and released on intervention by elders of the village, judge Qambrani asked us to let Samia return to her parents’ home or marry off two of our women to the Dethos and pay them Rs1 million. We were warned be prepared for the consequences in case we didn’t agree to the conditions,” he said.

The judge also created hurdles in the investigation when Samia’s lawyer filed an application with police for ascertaining the couple’s whereabouts, Ismail alleged.

The families of Ishtiaq and Samia, who had studied together in a government school, had opposed their marriage because the two communities did not have a tradition of unions outside their own clans.

ESCAPE TO KARACHI: The couple fled to Karachi and married on Nov 18, 2011. They were living in Surjani Town. Their families mounted a search but failed to trace them.

On one occasion, Ismail alleged, judge Qambrani had accompanied them to Karachi as he claimed that he had traced the couple through their mobile phone record. “However, we were not able to find them. In that visit the girl’s father, Ahmed Detho, also accompanied us,” he recalled.

Finally Ahmed Detho traced his daughter. He went to Karachi and stayed with the couple for a few days. He succeeded in persuading the couple to return to the village after assuring them that he had no objection to their marriage.

The two were then brought to Hyderabad on Aug 23 this year. Ishtiaq was in touch with his mother and told her everything before returning to the village on that fateful night.

“Ishtiaq even donated blood to Ahmed Khan’s maternal niece who was under treatment at Jinnah hospital. Before coming to Hyderabad he called my uncle because he wanted some money to attend the wedding of Samia’s brother. My uncle gave him Rs5,000 when he returned to our village. Later it transpired that there was no such marriage and it was a drama staged only to bring the couple back to the village for the cold-blooded murder,” Ismail, the brother of Ishtiaq Sheikh, said.

He criticised the role of judge Qambrani and alleged that he was aware of everything. “He (judge Qambrani) even attended a jirga where it was decided that our sisters will have to marry the Dethos,” he said, adding that the judge had even influenced police when they raided Dethos’ homes in the village.

“He (the judge) then told us to marry our sisters off to Dethos to settle the issue,” Ismail said, adding that his son Bilawal was a close friend of Ishtiaq and he was also “aware of the conspiracy”.