Slaughter ended a sibling’s promise in Kashmir

Women mouners at Soibugh. [FPK Photo/Kaisar Ali.]

Amid shock and rage, the sibling recalls last moments and the promise that ended with a life. 

When a bucket full of chopped human body was delivered at Soibugh Budgam for last rites on March 12, Saba screamed at the top of her lungs: “Is this why you didn’t let me buy meat that day, so that you could yourself return in pieces!”

Before leaving for her computer classes on March 7, Arifa had promised her younger sister—Saba—that she would buy meat and cookies for the family herself. 

But instead came the human flesh torn asunder by a man sharing meals and moments with the family before his advances were rebuffed, leaving him in a vengeful huff.

The slaughter has shaken the hamlet housing substantial shawl-weavers, now out to seek justice for the “innocent soul”. 

Two tents pitched to house mourners. [FPK Photo/Kaisar Ali.]

Arifa’s family had lost touch with their daughter at around noon on the fateful day. Her number had suddenly gone out of reach. Later as the faithful started visiting graveyards to pray for their departed loved ones—as it was the night of Shab-e-Bhara’at—the Khan family was still trying their daughter’s number.

“We started to inform our relatives to confirm if she was there, but none had any clue about her,” recalls Showkat Khan, Arifa’s brother. “The next morning we went to the Soibugh police station to lodge a missing report.”

Acting on a tipoff, cops went to the home of Shabir Wani of Ompora, Budgam. Police didn’t find any “incriminating material” there, but took the 45-year-old man for questioning.

Shabir was topping the list of suspects based on the family complaint. Later Budgam police’s technical evidence would trace the macabre of death to his home only.  

Grievers’ gathering and some grave talks. [FPK Photo/Kaisar Ali.]

Shabir is a father of two children and was a regular at Soibugh. If he used to work anywhere in the village, he would later visit their home for smoke and tea breaks. 

This is how, the villagers recall, he made inroads into Arifa’s home.

“I used to work with him,” continues Showkat, Arifa’s brother. “He was training me but from last year we were not working together anymore.” 

The wedge surfaced following Shabir’s relentless visits to Arifa’s home with marriage proposals. 

“But my sister would always reject his advances,” the sibling says. “He was, however, bent on his behavior.”

Unlike letterless Shabir, Arifa had done a Masters in Psychology and would teach school children at her home. She was fighting for her family’s welfare and was getting married this summer. 

But Shabir’s dogmatic pursuit had affected her routine. 

“After committing such a savagery,” Showkat continues, “the butcher of my sister will be detained for some years now, what after that? How’ll we fight for justice when we’ve no means?”

The street scene at Soibugh. [FPK Photo/Kaisar Ali.]

Inside police custody, Shabir had mostly stayed cold and indifferent before vomiting the chilling crime details.  

“He had chopped the girl’s body into pieces,” said Al-Tahir Gilani, SSP Budgam. “We found her head from his lawn and the main body, from neck to toes, under the bridge. Her limbs were found in a tank near his house.”

The nature of the crime has already shocked Kashmir with people demanding an exemplary punishment for the killer. Villagers of Soibugh even held a candle light march to press for justice.

The bed that became bier. [FPK Photo/Kaisar Ali.]

But amid all this, Saba is inconsolable. 

She’s relentlessly talking about the final moments with her sibling and how Arifa had shown a sense of responsibility for her family from a very young age. 

The wailing sister is even drawing comparisons between the ‘meat’ that Arifa promised and her elder sibling’s slaughtered body.

“Everyone has to die but not like this,” Saba screams. “We were not able to see her face, her body parts were chopped like chicken.”



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