Talib during his lively days.
Nearly a fortnight after cracking the missing Kupwara boy’s case, the special investigators have unearthed the shocking and sensational plot behind the child killing.
IT was a routine outing for 8-year-old Talib Hussain Khan on 15th February 2022 when he left home for playground. But as dusk fell over his hometown Kupwara that day, his missing whereabouts didn’t just mobilise his parents, but who’s who in town.
For the next week or so, the boy’s missing status would even trigger the security apparatus as well as activate the civil society.
In Kashmir’s ‘missing history’, it was the first collective pursuit—broadcasted, bellowed, bolstered—by big reward money announced by multiple players.
But before the massive human hunting began, Talib parents had searched him in every nook and corner of his native Awoora village of Kupwara.
Fearing for his life, his family lodged a police complaint, thus starting what became one of the most deliberated missing cases in the recent Kashmir history following the unending enigma of Mehran— the Habba Kadal boy who “vanished into thin air” in 2008.
“For the next six days, we weren’t getting any clue despite pulls and pressures on us,” Rashid Younis, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Headquarters, Kupwara, told Kashmir Observer.
The cluelessness was baffling as the police had formed different teams of 10 cops each to trace the missing child. Over 300 suspects were rounded-up and grilled.
But when it didn’t help, Yougal Manhas, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Kupwara, formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter.
Headed by additional SP Kupwara Pardeep Singh, the SIT had DySP Rashid Younis, Inspector Nazeer Ahmad (SHO PS Trehgam) and Azhar Shakeel (IC PP Awoora) as its members.
Apart from the probe pack, the police announced Rs. 1 lakh reward for any information about the missing child. Even former Rajya Sabha member and senior Peoples Conference leader, Mir Mohammad Fayaz decided to give Rs. 2 lakh to anyone informing police about Talib.
Poster announcing missing status of Talib.
But when rewards failed to help, the army was called to widen the search operation.
Soon the team comprising of a top army officer, three junior commissioned officers and 160 territorial army men scanned frontier areas of Reshwari, Gore Nallah, Pt 1957, Nayem Shah Zyarat, Gujjar Patti, Mir Muqam, Frasduban Forest, Joda Talab, Khan Mohalla and Awoora village. Even the conflict-hardened combatants returned empty-handed.
At about the same time, the police was searching water bodies, trenches, jungles and the suspected places in Kupwara by using drones and sniffer dogs.
But after getting no clue, police started analyzing call detail records and tracking towers. During this phase of technical investigation, more suspects were called for questioning.
It was at this stage that the SIT got its first credible clue. The suspect was someone very close to the missing boy.
Police searching Talib’s body in Kupwara jungle.
As Talib’s neighbour, Aamir Khan was the only person who had informed police that he had seen the missing boy at around 3:30 pm outside his residence.
“When we called him for questioning, he started dictating us to carry out the investigation,” DySp Rashid recalled. “It was at that moment we started suspecting him.”
The SIT sleuths soon put Aamir on surveillance and probed his activities on the day when the boy went missing.
One of the unusual things that the investigators learned about the first day of Talib’s disappearance was Aamir’s outing in the local ground.
“He never played there, but on the day of the boy’s disappearance, he made his presence felt there from 4:00 to 5:00 pm,” the investigating officer said.
“For any shrewd sleuth, it was an unusual detail and since the devil lies in detail only, we started digging deep.”
Since Aamir was close to Talib and would usually be with him, he went missing on the day when investigators brought sniffer dogs to gather more evidence.
The suspicion made sleuths storm his residence where they found a cryptic note in his book. The scribbling made the suspicion even more solid: “I’m going to do very dangerous things in my future. I don’t know what I will be. I’m going to start bad deeds for which I require spy cameras.”
Nearly caught in the net, Aamir had left behind another clue—a fake Facebook account in the name of “Muland Kumar”.
From that profile, he had texted a relative of Talib: “Your child is with some group and if they come to know, they will kill me.”
By then, the SIT was quite assured that they had their man. What followed was the quintessential police grilling. But this was when the investigators found themselves at their wit’s end.
The SIT members scanning Kupwara jungle during the investigation.
To distract detectives, Aamir resorted to stories and one of them was about kidnapping.
But sleuths soon got the details of Aamir’s fake Facebook account from US. The profile on the radar, it was revealed, was created on his number and the text was also sent from it.
Next, his cellphone was sent to Electronic Surveillance Unit (ESU), Kupwara to retrieve the deleted data.
Amir’s cellphone would soon vomit the hideous truth—forever ending the suspense over the missing mystery.
“We finally came to know that he was the one who actually abducted the child and killed him,” DySp Rashid said.
“We found the picture of Talib’s dead body in his cellphone. He had taken the picture after killing him and then deleted it.”
Inside the SIT chamber, however, Aamir was still acting as a thick-skinned naysayer. But once evidences started piling up against him, the killer finally confessed his crime.
“He came out of the denial a few days later when he took us to the crime spot hidden in the deep jungle of Awoora,” the officer said. “He finally recovered the body of the child.”
But amid the outcry over the child killing, not many could know what made a neighbour kill a neighbour.
Police recovering body of Talib.
Inside his office, DySp Rashid offers some startling background details compelling Aamir to commit the heinous crime.
“You’ve to brace up yourself for it if I tell you that it’s a case of honour killing,” the officer said with a straight face.
Some 8 years before taking little Talib into jungle and kill him, Aamir was wailing over the dead body of his sister.
“Amir’s sister had committed suicide after Talib’s uncle blackmailed her,” DySp Rashid said.
It’s said that Aamir concealed the reality behind his sibling’s suicide with police and vowed to settle the scores himself.
That year when Talib was born to the Khans of Awoora, Aamir driven by a vengeful huff had his target in mind.
Eight years later, in the last winter of Talib’s transient life, Aamir avenged his sibling’s death in the most brutal and shocking manner.
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Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed