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'He killed his daughters one by one'

Last updated on: February 10, 2004 13:19 IST

He killed his daughters one by one


Roshan's world turned upside down on February 5 after her husband Salim Ghulam Hasan Sheikh called her up to say he had seated their five daughters in a train and was going to commit suicide.

The couple had six children -- Sugupta, 7, Rukhsan, 6, Yasmeen, 5, Samreen, 4, Suhana, 3, and an 8-month-old son Shabbir (below, right).

It later turned out that Salim had taken his daughters to the Sardar bridge near Bharuch in Gujarat over the Narmada river. He let them play among themselves and, over a period of two hours, threw them into the river one by one. Immersed in their games, the children were not aware of what their father was doing.

After throwing all of them into the river, he tried to jump into the river too, but was spotted by a truck driver who tried to stop him. Salim then ran away.

Search parties had till the evening of February 7 found the bodies of two girls.

Roshan is in a state of shock.

On Saturday, the police arrested Salim.

Roshan's family is based in Valay village close to Varedia in Bharuch district. "I have three daughters -- Farida, Roshan, Saira," her father Valibhai told rediff.com "My family's financial condition is very bad, which forced me to get my children  married as soon as possible."

He sought his brother-in-law's help to find a suitable boy for Roshan. The latter suggested Salim, a native of Surat. The two were married in 1993 when Salim was 24 and Roshan only 14. They had their first child in 1996.

"After their marriage," says Valibhai, "I discovered that Salim was already married to Razia, a girl in Mumbai, but was separated from her."

Salim had also told Valibhai that he hailed from Ahmedabad. Later, Valibhai discovered that Salim did not have any home there though some of his relatives did stay in the city.One of daughters killed

Salim lost his father when he was nine. He and his sister Amina studied in a civic school in Surat till Standard IV. Two other siblings, Kassam and Sadiq, didn't do any schooling.

"When father died," Amina told rediff.com "all of a sudden all the responsibility came upon us forcing us to take up whatever work we got to support ourselves and our mother. In due course, the distance between us grew. Our elder brother Kassam has a paan-bidi shop in Nainital (a Surat locality). He does not keep in touch with us. This happened in Salim's case too. Sadiq is unmarried, drives an autorickshaw and stays with us."

Salim worked in a gambling den and also drove an autorickshaw. About three years ago, the gambling den closed down, reducing his income. He found it difficult to survive on the income of the autorickshaw alone.

During the post-Godhra riots, he left Surat and began staying in his father-in-law's house at Valay in Bharuch district. He drove an autorickshaw in Surat and visited Valay twice a week.

About nine months ago, Valibhai said, Salim took a house on rent in nearby Varedia village. Just before Ramzan in November, he stopped going to Surat for work. He drove an autorickshaw in the village. He had borrowed about Rs 7,000 but nobody forced him to return their money."

"Salim used to love his daughters very much. It is difficult to believe that he threw them into the river. I don't think his action was prompted by either debt or the pressure of having bring up several girls. It is something else. He did not owe money to anyone in Surat as far as we know," Amina told rediff.com

Amina has a daughter, but separated from her husband some time ago. She lives with her daughter and mother in a slum. Both adult women stitch clothes for a living.

"Salim's family visited us on December 29. They were very happy. All of a sudden, we hear this shocking news," Amina told rediff.com

Roshan is in a state of shock. She has not eaten anything after taking Salim's phone call.

Siddiqi Ghulam, Salim's friend at Varedia, has had four daughters in the quest for a son. This, after three of his children died at birth. His wife even suggested that he marry another woman to have a boy.

"Sons are considered crucial for furthering the family name and hence, everyone desires a son," Siddiqi told rediff.com "Salim is a very simple person, no vices. Our families are very close. My daughters were friends of his daughters. He too wanted a son and that resulted in five daughters before he finally got a boy."

Investigating Officer Sub-Inspector V J Patel told rediff.com: "Salim told us he always used to give his earnings to his wife, but lately the amount had come down, leading to frequent quarrels between them. Fed up, he decided to kill himself and his daughters."

Photographs: Vijay Singh

Vijay Singh in Bharuch