Mohammad Umar Hafij will have to spend the rest of his life in jail for killing a woman in 1995, thanks to the testimony given by the woman’s daughter, who was only eight years old then.
The Bombay High Court upheld the life sentence awarded to Hafij relying on the testimony given by Shabnam, who had witnessed the murder.
Additional public prosecutor, Hitendra Dedhia, told the court that on August 26, 1995, Hafij had imputed that Shabnam’s mother, Najmunissa, was a woman of bad character, which led to a heated argument between them.
The next day, Hafij attacked Najmunissa with a knife when she was on her way to Taloja to meet her mother.
Shabnam, who was walking at a distance behind her mother saw Hafij stab her and informed her uncle. They rushed Najmunissa to a nearby hospital but she succumbed to her injuries.
Hafij, who was absconding, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh in 2001.
Six years after her mother’s murder, Shabnam identified Hafij and narrated the entire incident to the court.
Hafij was her father’s friend, who lived in the neighbourhood, and used to often visit them.
Based on Shabnam’s testimony, the sessions court sentenced Hafij to life imprisonment.
He challenged the conviction before the high court which was rejected after relying on Shabnam’s testimony.
Appreciating Shabnam’s courage, a division bench of Justice DD Sinha and Justice AP Bhangale observed: “The witness, eight years old at the time of incident, gave intelligent and rational answers and stood firm in the cross-examination… She had witnessed… the murder of her mother. We have scrutinised her evidence and found it convincing.”