PESHAWAR: When Saeeda married Sajjad 10 years ago, she may have imagined she would be entering the happiest phase of her life. In a departure from norms, the two married out of love instead of an arrangement agreed upon by their parents.
There might have been a million different thoughts and emotions going through Saeeda’s mind that day. None of them, however, would have given her the closest hint to her eventual fate.
For Saeeda, marriage did not translate to conjugal bliss. After a turbulent relationship that carried over a decade, she was murdered in cold blood by the very man she once loved.
“They were married with such pomp and grandeur,” said Saeeda’s father, Badaam Gul. “We never could have guessed their relationship would turn so ugly.”
According to Gul, Sajjad was cordial enough towards Saeeda in the early days of their marriage, but the two started quarrelling some time later. “Saeeda was never accepted by her mother-in-law either,” he said, adding that this made it very difficult for his daughter to live with her in-laws in a joint family set up.
“Often on his mother’s instigation, Sajjad would beat Saeeda up and send her back to us,” Gul recounted. “Each time, we would pacify Sajjad’s family and convince Saeeda to go back to them,” he said. “We would tell her it is not uncommon for couples to fight,” added Saeeda’s uncle Haleem Shah.
Despite her family’s best efforts, Saeeda and Sajjad’s relationship kept worsening and came to head five months before her murder, resulting in a divorce. “I watched helplessly as they ruined my daughter’s life, she was so hurt,” said Gul. As dysfunctional as the marriage was, it bore Saeeda and Sajjad three children.
Sajjad and his family, however, were not satisfied with divorce either, it appears. “We had left the matter up to Allah following the divorce,” said Shah. “But Sajjad came back with some elders five months later and said that he wanted to reconcile.”
“I was forced to concede,” said Gul, full of regret. “We are a poor family… to protect our honour, and under immense pressure from relatives, I had to accept what the elders demanded.”
In accordance with the elders’ wishes, Saeeda was temporarily married to another man and then remarried to Sajjad. “The elders vouched for Sajjad. They promised he would behave this time,” said Saeeda’s uncle. “We had no clue he would murder her in cold blood,” he said.
“If only I would have known they would return Saeeda this way,” lamented her father.
All seemed well again at first for a days. “Sajjad genuinely behaved better,” Gul told The Express Tribune. “But then one night, they fought again,” he said. “Only, this time, he went too far.”
According to both Saeeda’s father and Sajjad’s confession before police, Sajjad electrocuted Saeeda using some live wires. Noticing that she was still alive, albeit barely, he then choked her to death.
“Sajjad and his family tried to pass off Saeeda’s murder as an accident.
They told us she died after being electrocuted,” said Gul. “We did not believe this one bit, so I lodged a complaint against Sajjad with the Dawood Zai police station.”
Taking notice of the complaint, SSP Investigation Jahanzaib Khan directed his officers to apprehend the suspect immediately and investigate the case from all angles. “We took Saeeda’s body into custody and sent it for post mortem. We also collected evidence from the room she allegedly died in,” said Investigation Officer Lal Zada Khan.
According to Khan, police grew suspicious as soon as they reached Sajjad’s house. “We took statements from everyone present at the house and noticed some discrepancies,” he said. “Sajjad insisted at first that Saeeda’s death was an accident and a result of electrocution. But the post mortem report suggested otherwise and so we arrested him.”
Khan added that upon interrogation, Sajjad confessed he had killed Saeeda. “He admitted that he tried to electrocute his wife and upon finding she was still breathing, he strangulated her. He also admitted to trying to hide the wires he used to electrocute Saeeda,” he said.
Saeeda’s distraught father now has one wish – that Sajjad is punished for his cruelty. “He did not even feel pity for his own children, let alone my daughter. He robbed his own children of a mother’s love forever,” Gul said.
Saeeda’s three children are aged three years, two years and four months respectively. According to her uncle, they have brought the elder two children to Saeeda’s parents’ home while the youngest is still with her in-laws.