The announcement of a press conference was a dead giveaway that cops believed they had unraveled the most intriguing murder mystery, which has rocked Bollywood in recent times. Briefing the media on the Laila Khan case, joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy said, “The identification of the bodies could only be made after DNA reports of all six skeletons are out.”
On Tuesday, Mumbai Crime Branch had recovered the skeletons from the Bollywood starlet’s farmhouse in Igatpuri, near Nashik. Earlier yesterday, investigating agencies recovered a knife, a rod and two mobile phones along with some jewellery from the premises. Laila Khan’s mother Saleena’s third husband Parvez Tak showed the place where he along with his loyal friend Shakir Hussain Wani, a watchman at the farmhouse, had dumped the bodies after murdering the family. Shakir had been brought over from Kashmir by Parvez three months prior to the murder. Shakir is absconding, while Asif Sheikh, Saleena’s second husband still remains a suspect in the case. Police said Parvez’s insecurity and his hunger for the victims’ properties were the motives behind the crime.
MiD DAY has learnt that a fight between Parvez and Laila’s siblings lasted more than an hour and a half. Crime Branch suspects the scuffle ensued when Parvez tried to run away after killing Saleena. The accused then first managed to neutralise Laila’s brother Imran. Parvez has allegedly claimed he had no intention to kill anyone. He was afraid after realising what he had done and then went on to bury the bodies. But Crime Branch is not accepting his statements on face value.
Sources say, Parvez has claimed during his interrogation that he had moved from Kashmir to Mumbai when Saleena promised to give him a break in films. He says he had borrowed Rs 3 lakh from people he knew to come to Mumbai and then went on to spend all that money on Laila’s family. Parvez has alleged he wanted to go back, and had made his intentions clear to Saleena. But she tried to stop him from going when they were at Igatpuri. After fleeing from the scene, Parvez says he went to Ladakh and worked as a daily labourer.
On February 3, 2011, Laila’s family members and Parvez decided to have a get-together at their farmhouse. Reshma, Saleena and Parvez reached the dwelling early, with the other members deciding to join them later. But, when then did not arrive even on February 7, Parvez came back with Saleena and Reshma to their Oshiwara flat. At that time, Saleena’s second husband Asif was also present. Everyone then made their way to the farmhouse and partied the whole day. There was barbecuing, other food items and music. However, late at night Saleena and Parvez had a heated argument and in a fit of rage Parvez hit her with an iron rod. She collapsed, lay in a pool of blood, and eventually died. The other family members were killed with two knives and the rod after they found out about the crime.
“Police recovered the bodies dumped in a pit. The trench was 12ft long, 8ft wide and 6ft deep. First the corpses of Reshma (19), Imran (25) and Zara (25) was put in the pit. Then blood-soaked mattresses, clothes etc were dumped and covered with a layer of mud and Shabad stones. On top of this, the bodies of Laila (30), Azmina (32) and Saleena were discharged and covered up in the same manner. Cops said this was done to ensure all the bodies were decomposed and protect them from animals. The duo then torched the house using diesel from a generator. They then went to the Oshiwara flat and cleaned up the whole place to destroy evidence. They then drove to J&K, dumped the car outside Parvez’s office and took off,” Roy said.
Saleena married Parvez two years before the killings. However, she had not divorced her second husband Asif and was in constant touch with him. This made Parvez apprehensive. Saleena had properties at Mira Road, Oshiwara and the farmhouse in Igatpuri. The power of attorney and keys to all the estates were with Asif. Laila had married a businessman in Dubai who had asked that she and her family come to the emirate and live a lavish life. The victims were prepared to desert Parvez as he did not have a passport. Unnerved by all this, Parvez was influenced to commit the crimes. He had also prepared fake PAN cards and other documents of Laila and her family members to take away their properties.
How the incident came to light
Nishat Shamsi, a television news reporter came to know that Laila and her family have been missing for a long time. Nishat went to Oshiwara police station to register a missing complaint but the police refused.
He reached Laila’s residence at Oshiwara and spoke with the neighbours, who said they hadn’t seen the family in a while. Nishat took some of the neighbours to the police station to register a compliant, but cops didn’t oblige.
In August 2011, Nishat went to director Rakesh Sawant who cast Laila in a film. They tried several times but Laila could not be reached. Nishat and Rakesh went to Oshiwara police but again no complaint was registered. Later, a non-cognisable complaint was lodged and Nishat ran a story. Then Laila’s father Nadir Patel came forward and wrote a letter to the police to register a complaint on December 17, 2011.
Nishat then again ran a story and finally on March 3, 2012, a missing complaint was registered, following which the killings came out in the open.
Sloppy work by cops
However, investigations also revealed some very slipshod work by both Igatpuri and Oshiwara police. A missing complaint was lodged by police only after repeated requests from Laila’s father Nadir Patel. The call detail record (CDR) recovered by the police said that the family was last present at Igatpuri. The cops there were informed and a parallel investigation done. Sleuths from ATS also went to the farmhouse to inspect it. Primary investigation revealed bloodstains all over the house. Also female accoutrements like purse, makeup box etc were recovered but not taken note of by the police. Also, several people who knew Laila and her family were not questioned by police. For almost two years, Parvez was not arrested and his co-aide Shakir still remains ‘wanted’.