The police in Pakistan’s Punjab are investigating a love triangle as the motive behind the murder of an Ahmadi doctor, whose 2014 death was earlier linked to anti-Ahmadiyya violence in the country.
An eight-member investigation team interrogates Rizwan Habib Bangash over his alleged involvement in the killing of Ahmadi cardiologist Mehdi Ali Qamar, a US national. His unsolved murder case has been reopened after eight years.
Dr Mehdi’s widow Wajiha Swati, also a US national, had married Bangash shortly after his murder in Rabwa or Chenab Nagar (the official name of the town). In December 2021, Bangash was arrested for killing Wajiha Swati and burying her at a secret location in Lakki Marwat.
He was being interrogated in Rawalpindi for Wajiha Swati’s murder when police reopened Dr Mehdi’s case in Rabwa. Bangash was moved to Rabwa earlier in February and he was remanded to ten days in police custody for interrogation. His physical remand ends on Monday, February 28.
The accused is kept at Chiniot Saddar Police Station instead of Chenab Nagar Police station for security reasons, a police source told SAMAA DIGITAL.
The source said the police is handling the matter carefully and in utmost secrecy as it involves the murder of two US nationals and the US authorities are also concerned about the investigation.
The district Police officer has issued strict instructions to the investigation team not to share any information about the investigation with the media until the investigation is complete. Once the investigation is complete, the DPO would brief the media, the sources said.
On Monday, the accused would be produced before the court for more remand.
The investigation team is headed by Chiniot SP Investigation with Chenab Nagar DSP, Chiniot City DSP, Chiniot Saddar SHO, Chenab Nagar SHO, Chiniot CIA Incharge, Chiniot IT Incharge and the investigation officer of the case being members.
Marriage contracted within six months of Mehdi’s murder
Dr Mehdi was gunned down on May 26, 2014, and the reason for his murder in the FIR was stated as religious hate because of him being a member of the Ahmadiyya community. The cardiologist was volunteering at an Ahmadiyya hospital in Rabwa.
A police officer said after the murder of Dr Mehdi, the police had requested the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya to give them access to Wajiha but she was deliberately kept away from the police. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Abdul Majeed Shakir, a watchman of the Ahmadi graveyard, and the case was not properly pursued.
The murder of the Ahmadi doctor in Pakistan garnered huge media coverage in international and local media and it was thought to be religiously motivated.
Now as the probe reopens, the investigators are looking into the possibility that whether both Bangash and Wajiha were involved in Dr Mehdi’s murder. They have already learnt that Wajiha was already in contact with Bangash whom she met in Dubai a few years before the murder of Mehdi. She had spent several months with Bangash during Mehdi’s life, a close relative of Wajiha told SAMA DIGITAL.
Six months after Mehdi was gunned down, Bangash and Wajiha married on November 6, 2014. Their marriage certificate or nikahnama, a copy of which is available with SAMAA DIGITAL, shows that Bangash promised a lot of money as the dower to Wajiha.
He was 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 (consummation of marriage).
He had also 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 two different areas of district Hangu, a market with 40 shops in Hangu and Rs20,000 per month as pocket money.
The groom was bound not to remarry during the life of Wajiha Swati. At a corner of the nikahnama, it was written that the groom would construct a petrol pump in the ownership of the bribe.
Most of this detail emerged towards the end of last year when police were probing Swati’s disappearance and her murder.
The tragic end of Swati
Wajiha went missing shortly after she arrived in Islamabad on October 16, 2021, from the United States. Her family claimed she had divorced Bangash by then and had returned to Pakistan to settle a financial dispute with him.
Dr Mehdi’s and Wajiha’s eldest son, who is based in the US, launched efforts to find his mother in Pakistan through lawyers. He filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court, which directed the police to arrest Rizwan based on suspicion.
Rizwan was detained on December 26 and confessed to the killing of Wajiha. The police recovered Wajiha’s body from the house of Bangash’s servant in Lakki Marwat where it had been interred under a bedroom. The body was exhumed and flown back to the US.
During the interrogation of Wajiha’s murder, Bangash also confessed to killing Dr Mehdi before Rawalpindi police. Rawalpindi police informed Chiniot Police about that and the case in Rabwa was reopened. SAMAA Digital had already reported on a possible link between the murders of Mehdi and Swati.
Contradictory claims on dissolution of marriage
Although Wajiha’s family claimed that she had divorced Bangash, other reports and records indicated that she withdrew the marriage dissolution suite in 2021. However, they were not living together.
Apparently, to end her marriage with Bangash, Wajiha obtained a fatwa, or religious decree, from Lal Masjid, Islamabad, on February 16, 2021, saying that she was a Sunni Muslim and her husband Rizwan had become an Ahmadi. In this way, she got her marriage declared void by Mufti Habib Salman of Darul Ifta Lal Masjid.
After acquiring the fatwa, Wajiha filed a suit for the dissolution of marriage at an Abbottabad family court on March 6, 2021, but she did not attach a copy of the fatwa with the suit application.
On June 21, Wajiha withdrew the case, saying that she had entered into a compromise with her husband Bangash. On the same day in the evening, she filed an FIR at Nawan Shehar police station 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 said 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 misspelt in the FIR.