‘Till death do us part’

Umer Nangiana August 08, 2010

ISLAMABAD: A married couple’s plan to separate by faking a death was foiled by unexpected media flurry late on Friday night. Muhammad Bilal and Shehla Bilal had been married for one year and were unhappy with their marriage.

Their parents were against their separation. So they decided to fake Shehla’s death and part ways. But a comprehensive search operation by the rescue teams, fuelled by fiery media onslaught, thwarted their plan.

The drama started around 10:30pm on Friday night when news of a woman disappearing under mysterious circumstances in Pir Sohawa surfaced.

The police and rescue teams arrived at the scene to find a delirious Bilal who told them that he left her wife standing near a ridge before going to toilet. She was missing when he returned. Bilal added that initially he tried to search for her on his own. However, after failing to determine her whereabouts he called in the help of rescue and police officials. He feared Shehla had slipped and fell down into a deep ravine.

It was perhaps the mention of Margalla Hills that prompted the electronic media to swarm the area in large numbers.

The rescue teams and police officials started a comprehensive search for the lady. They were able to find her purse and shoes near the place indicated by Bilal within half an hour. This confirmed the fears that Shehla was in trouble.

The electronic media was almost certain that she had fallen from the ridge into a ravine hundreds of feet deep.

Police arrested Bilal on suspicions of pushing his wife down the ridge. The rescue operation had now gained impetus. Meanwhile, the TV screens floated multiple theories of what might have happened. The theory of the husband pushing his wife down the ridge gained the most traction.

After a comprehensive search for more than four hours, rescue officials were certain that the Shehla’s body was not in the area indicated by her husband. Bilal, however, continued to insist on his version of the events.

Police officials, unable to accept that Shehla had managed to escape the thick forests of Margalla Hills unscathed, decided to grill Bilal during interrogations. Another four hours later, he cracked, and spilled the beans.

He told police that his wife was, in fact, on her way to Multan. He revealed they had staged the drama in a bid to get separated from each other.

“She had suggested that I should go to Margalla Hills and drop her belongings from highest point I could find,” he said. The idea was to get the police to declare that she died and they were unable to find her body. This would have put Shehla’s parents at ease.

“This way we would have been able to get rid of our unhappy marriage,” he added.

“It was Shehla’s idea. She would have gone and stayed with a friend while I staged this drama,” Bilal insisted.

He blamed the electronic media for “foiling their plan”.  While planning, they had not counted on the story making its way on air.

Shehla returned to her home in Rawalpindi on Saturday afternoon.

Bilal has been charged with misguiding the police and wasting national resources. If implicated, he can be fined and jailed for up to six months.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2010.


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