Did the same man kill Wajiha Swati, Dr Mehdi Qamar?
The unsolved murder of an Ahmadi heart specialist in Rabwa is being brought of cold storage after eight long years because the police are confronted with another murder—that of the doctor’s ex-wife possibly at the hands of her new husband.
At the centre of the case is a man named Rizwan Habib Bangash. He was just arrested on suspicion of killing his wife Wajiha Farooq Swati, a US national. Wajiha used to be married to the Ahmadi heart specialist Dr Mehdi Ali Qamar, who was gunned down eight years ago in Rabwa where he had gone to volunteer at the Tahir Heart Institute. Six months after her husband Dr Mehdi’s murder, Wajiha married Rizwan Bangash.
Fast forward to 2021. Wajiha arrives in Islamabad from the US but goes missing from October 16. Wajiha’s eldest son based in the US files a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court, which directs the police to arrest Rizwan based on suspicion. Rizwan is arrested on December 26 and confesses to killing Wajiha when he is questioned by the Rawalpindi police. The police recover Wajiha’s body which is flown back to the US for burial. Rizwan, along with his father and six accomplices are sent to Adiala Jail on judicial remand by January 5.
In the latest development, the Chenab Nagar police now want to question Rizwan for Dr Mehdi’s murder as well. “Given the availability of some circumstantial evidence associating Rizwan with the murder of Dr Mehdi, he is required by us in a bid to take the investigation on the logical end,” Chenab Nagar Police Station House Officer Farrukh Tehsin told this reporter. Some fresh information has since come to light and the police are combing through CCTV footage and records of mobile phone calls made in that area during those days. (Chenab Nagar is Rabwa's official name)
The SHO said they will be submitting an application in court for permission to question Rizwan. They have already gone to Rawalpindi twice with Dr Mehdi’s case file while Rizwan was being interrogated by the Rawalpindi police for the Wajiha Swati case. They wanted to exchange information, said a police official at Chenab Nagar police station close to the updates.
According to the First Information Report, Dr Mehdi was targeted for being an Ahmadi. Ahmadis in Pakistan are under constant threat to their lives and properties because of difference of their religion in Pakistan. Rizwan will thus be the first accused to be interrogated in the killing of Dr Mehdi in almost eight years since his murder. According to the post mortem examination report, 15 bullet injuries were reported on Dr Mehdi’s body.
Motive and money: gold, land and property
There are apprehensions that Rizwan killed Dr Mehdi to marry Wajiha, said a police source on condition of anonymity.
Wajiha and Dr Mehdi were born Ahmadi while Rizwan was not. According to one of Wajiha’s documents, Rizwan became Ahmadi at a later stage to marry her. Rizwan and Wajiha’s marriage was, however, solemnized by Qari Ghulam Mustafa, the imam of Judicial Complex Peshawar mosque, unlike an Ahmadi nikkah which take place under the administration of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya.
According to the marriage certificate, it was incumbent upon the groom to pay Rs2.5 million in cash and gold ornaments weighing 50 tolas (583 gram) as Mehar Moajjal (prompt dower) to the bride at the time of rukhsati (departure of the bride). According to Section 16 of the marriage certificate, the groom had also promised to give her land, monthly pocket money and shops as Mehar Ghair Moajjal (deferred dower).
He had promised to transfer the total share of his inherited property to her. In addition to that, he had pledged to gift her 32 acres of his land in Badin, Sindh. He had pledged one kanal in different two Khasras of district Hangu, a market with 40 shops in Hangu and Rs20,000 per month as pocket money. Finally, according to Section 19 of the marriage certificate, the groom was bound not to remarry during the life of Wajiha Farooq.
Discrepancies in Wajiha Swati-Rizwan Bangash marriage certificate
There are some factual discrepancies in the marriage certificate, particularly about Wajiha. She is declared a virgin and about three years younger than Rizwan. Factually, however, she was seventeen years older than Rizwan and the mother of three sons.
According to their Computerized National Identity Cards issued by the Government of Pakistan, Wajiha born on October 23, 1976, while Rizwan born on March 15, 1993. According to her CNIC, issued in 2011 and valid till 2031, Wajiha never changed her name with NADRA after her first marriage to Dr Mehdi and second marriage to Rizwan. The card still bears her father’s name “Umar Farooq Swathi”.
Wajiha wants to end her marriage
Six months before she traveled to Pakistan and went missing, Wajiha tried to end her marriage.
She acquired a Fatwa from Lal Masjid, Islamabad, on March 16, 2021, saying that she was a Sunni Muslim and her husband Rizwan had become an Ahmadi. She asked the religious scholars (Muftis) if her marriage would still be valid with her husband being an Ahmadi. The Fatwa, issued by Habib Salman of Darul Ifta Lal Masjid, declared their marriage as void.
After acquiring the Fatwa, Wajiha filed a suit for the dissolution or end of her marriage in an Abbottabad family court on March 6, 2021, but she did not attach a copy of the Fatwa.
Roughly a month later, she went to Shehar police station in Abbottabad asking the police to protect her from Rizwan. She alleged that Rizwan was threatening to murder her and her sons for seeking to end their marriage. This happened on April 13, but the police did not register any case on her application.
By June 21, Wajiha took back the case to end her marriage, saying that she had entered into a compromise with her husband. On the same day in the evening, however, she filed an FIR Nawan Shehar police station in Abbottabad against a man identified as Sayed Qamar Ali Shah and two of his sisters on allegations of rape and criminal intimidation.
The story given to the police and recorded in the FIR made it seem as if she had registered it under Rizwan’s influence. In the FIR, Wajiha and Rizwan are said to have married “around eight years” before the registration of the FIR, contrary to the fact that her first husband Dr Mehdi had died less than seven years before that date. Additionally, Wajiha says she has a seven-year-old son with Rizwan. Contrary to that, the son mentioned in the FIR was nine years old and his name is also misspelled in the FIR.
Shabnam Nawaz, who is representing Wajiha’s son in the Supreme Court, told SAMAA Digital that they considered the marriage void not only on the basis of the Fatwa but also because of a “divorce deed” apparently signed by Rizwan on a one-page stamp paper valued at Rs100 dated November 10, 2020. Wajiha did not, however, ever submit this deed before the family court when she filed the dissolution of marriage suit on March 6, four months after the “divorce deed” came into existence.
One of Dr Mehdi’s relatives told SAMAA Digital that Wajiha and Mehdi’s eldest son Abdullah (22) is with the late doctor’s relatives in New York, and Hashim (14) and Asha’ar (10) are with Wajiha’s sister in the UK. However Advocate Shabnam said Abdullah is in no one’s custody as he his old enough and living independently. Advocate Shabnam Nawaz that they were apprehensive Rizwan would be killed in an encounter before he is interrogated for Dr Mehdi’s murder.
The writer is based in Canada. He can be reached @RanaTanver