Case File | A fratricide fuelled by jealousy, greed, and crippling debt

Published on Aug 10, 2022 07:28 PM IST

When Aabid and his accomplice Jahid killed the former's brother Zakir, his motive wasn't just to clear his debt. And despite what he thought was a well-thought-out murder plot, the investigators cracked the case in four hours.

In 10 minutes, the SHO and other officers reached the first floor flat. Seeing the scene inside the flat briefly made them suspect that this was the spot of a murder. (Agencies/Representative Image) PREMIUM
In 10 minutes, the SHO and other officers reached the first floor flat. Seeing the scene inside the flat briefly made them suspect that this was the spot of a murder. (Agencies/Representative Image)

New Delhi: On the humid evening of July 22 at around 7 pm, the station house officer (SHO) of northeast Delhi’s Seelampur police station, flanked by some junior officers, was out patrolling when he received a call. It was from a man saying that his uncle's flat in Gautampuri was ransacked. He added that there was a foul smell coming from a double-door fridge that was secured with nylon rope and that clothes were on the floor near the kitchen with blood all around them.

In 10 minutes, the SHO and other officers reached the first-floor flat. Seeing the scene inside the flat briefly made them suspect that this was the spot of the murder. They cordoned off the crime scene and called the crime scene inspection team and forensic experts, who arrived after a few minutes, and took photographs of the crime scene and the necessary evidence. Thereafter, the fridge was opened and the body of the caller’s 55-year-old maternal uncle Zakir Hussain, an interior designer by profession who lived alone in the flat, was found stuffed inside, with head injuries.

As it was a peculiar case that needed a skilled investigation, the special staff team of the northeast district police led by Inspector Ajai Kumar Yadav was roped in to solve the case and nab the killers.

Within four hours and with the help of CCTV footage as well as technical surveillance, a joint team of the local police and the special staff solved the case and arrested Zakir’s 53-year-old brother, Aabid Hussain, and his 25-year-old partner-in-crime, Zahid, said deputy commissioner of police (northeast) Sanjay Kumar Sain.

During their interrogation, Aabid turned out to be the alleged prime accused, while Jahid assisted him, for he desperately needed the money to get relief from some private financers who were pressuring him to repay the loans, the police said.

What the police initially thought was a simple murder case for robbery turned out to be a month-long meticulously hatched conspiracy by Aabid, not just for robbery, but for multiple motives that included greed, jealousy, issues with his daughters, and the constant pressure and threats from money lenders to repay their loans amounting to around 8 lakh, police officers associated with the probe said.

Apart from around 5 lakh in cash, the duo stole jewellery worth about 20 lakh and ownership documents of the ancestral property belonging to Aabid and his four brothers. The stolen jewellery, property papers and over 3 lakh were recovered from Aabid that he hid under the ground close to the boundary wall of a school in his neighbourhood. At the time of the arrest, Jahid was in the possession of 1.65 lakh, which was his share, said one of the officers.

The prime conspirator and his motives

A father of four daughters and a son, Aabid lived with his family in a house that is barely 200 metres away from the double-storey building in Gautampuri where his brother, Zakir Hussain, lived alone since his wife and four children left him some six years ago. Of five brothers, Sabir Hussain and Shakir Hussain are settled in Dubai and run their businesses there. Zakir ran his interior designing business from his house. Aabid earlier sold jackets from a rented shop and repaired electrical appliances. However, his business went into loss and he was debt-ridden. He owed around 8 lakh that he had borrowed from private lenders, and wasn’t able to repay them. And so, he was under immense pressure as threats against his life were being made.

During his interrogation, Aabid told the police that he disliked his brother, Zakir, and held him responsible for his poor financial condition. He suspected that it was because of Zakir that their Dubai-based brothers did not like him and were not helping him financially. Aabid was also of the view that the two brothers helped Zakir financially and often sent him money to run his business, despite Zakir’s own business running well, an investigator said.

“The brothers have a joint ancestral property in northeast Delhi that Aabid desperately wanted to sell to overcome the financial crisis and get his daughters married. However, the other brothers, including Zakir, were against it because their childhood memories and parents were attached to it. The papers of the property were in Zakir’s custody and that was another reason for Aabid’s annoyance with him. Aabid tried to steal the property papers in the past but had failed,” the investigator said, quoting Aabid’s disclosures.

Around two months ago, police said, Sabir and Shakir had come to Delhi from Dubai to celebrate Eid. After their arrival, they stayed for a few days at Zakir’s flat, and that aggravated Aabid’s enrage against him. Also, Aabid learnt that the two brothers had kept a large sum of cash at Zakir’s flat, and the amount would be around 50 lakh if Zakir’s money was also added. Aabid decided to get hold of that money and hatched a plan to steal it, even at the cost of Zakir’s life, said another police officer who grilled Aabid.

The planning and execution

While Sabir and Shakir were in Delhi, Aabid discussed his plans to sell the ancestral property a few times, but did not get a positive response from them. Anticipating that he would not get his share in the property for the next few years if his brothers returned to Dubai, Aabid allegedly planned to steal the documents along with the cash, jewellery and other valuables kept at Zakir’s flat. He roped in his close confidant, Jahid, who worked with him and treated him like his father, the investigator said.

“The urgency to execute the plan came after Sabir returned to Dubai on July 19 and Aabid thought that he would never get the money if Shakir also returned after moving the money somewhere else. Aabid called Jahid to his house on July 20 and discussed the entire plan with him and the role he had to play during its execution,” the investigator said, adding that Jahid stayed back at Aabid’s house that night.

On July 21 at around 3.30 pm, as per the plan, Aabid and Jahid reached some distance away from Zakir’s house. Jahid was carrying a hammer with him. Aabid went to Zakir’s flat on the pretext of meeting him. A few minutes later, he telephoned Jahid and called him upstairs with his packet of Beedi (smoke), which was part of the plan, the officer who interrogated the duo, said.

“Aabid went to the kitchen telling Zakir that he was preparing tea for them. Jahid told Zakir that he wanted to urinate and went to the bathroom, where he took out the hammer that he had tucked in his pants. While coming back to the living room, he surreptitiously gave the hammer to Aabid and sat on the couch with Zakir. Aabid silently approached Zakir and hit his head with the hammer from behind. Zakir started bleeding and collapsed on the floor after being hit five-six times in the head and face,” the officer added, quoting their disclosures.

Investigators said Aabid and Jahid planned to dispose of the body but decided against it, as taking the body down from the first floor and then crossing a densely populated neighbourhood was risky. That is why they changed the plan and stuffed the body in the fridge and leave it inside for a day or two, to ensure the body did not decompose quickly and leave a stench in the house.

“Their new plan was that Aabid would return to the flat the next day or the day after, discover the body and raise an alarm to make it a case of murder by someone else,” said the investigator.

Accordingly, the investigators said, Aabid and Jahid removed the trays from the fridge and laid the appliance on the floor. They stuffed Zakir’s body in it and then secured the appliance with nylon rope and clothes to ensure the door did not give way. Thereafter, they ransacked the entire flat, stole cash, jewellery, and property papers, and fled. They were at the flat for nearly one and a half hours, executing the murder and theft, they said.

“To avoid getting identified or caught by locals, Aabid wore Zakir’s t-shirt above the clothes that he was wearing which had blood spots on them. He also put his brother’s helmet on his head to cover his face while leaving the flat and the neighbourhood. Aabid wanted to make everyone believe that whoever killed Zakir wore his t-shirt and helmet to avoid identification. Jahid left with two bags containing stolen cash, jewellery, and property papers. Aabid followed him a few minutes later,” the second investigator said.

From the flat, the officer said, the duo went towards the school, where they distributed the stolen money and parted ways. Jahid returned to his house near Azadpur Mandi while Aabid hid the cash, jewellery and property papers under the ground near the school’s boundary wall before going to have drinks and drugs at home.

How was the case cracked?

Investigators said that after seeing the condition of the ransacked flat, it was not difficult for them to discern that the murder was committed for robbery and the role of someone known to the deceased could not be ruled out. While the local police completed the formalities pertaining to the inspection of the crime scene by forensic experts, removing the body to a government hospital mortuary, and registering the first information report (FIR), the special staff team began looking for clues by scanning CCTV cameras installed in the neighbourhood.

The footage of a camera facing the main gate of Zakir’s house showed two suspects – one of them leaving the building wearing a helmet and the other carrying two bags. The man with the helmet became the prime suspect as investigators believed that he was known to the deceased and wore the head shield only to avoid being identified.

“We questioned the relatives of Zakir including his nephews. They were also shown the video footage. One of the nephews identified the helmet man as his father, Aabid Hussain, by seeing the way the suspect walked. Our team immediately reached Aabid’s house and found him in an inebriated condition. When interrogated and confronted with the video footage, Aabid confessed to the crime and led us to Jahid, whom we caught from the Azadpur area,” said the special staff in charge, Inspector Ajai Kumar Yadav.

The two were booked for murder and destruction of evidence, and a case was registered under sections 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Seelampur police station, the police said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Karn Pratap Singh has been writing on crime, policing, and issues of safety in Delhi for almost a decade. He covers high-intensity spot news, including terror strikes, serial blasts and security threats in the national capital.

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