After 17 years, a city court finally sentenced Suhaib Ilyasi, a former TV producer, to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife. Ilyasi, was a television presenter of once popular criminal hunt show ‘India’s Most Wanted’, was earlier convicted by the Karkardooma Court in connection with the death of his wife, Anju Ilyasi, way back in the year 2000. Suhaib was found guilty on the charge of murder under the Indian Penal Code. Ilyasi’s mother-in-law Rukma Singh had sought inclusion of the additional charge of murder against him for her daughter’s death on January 11, 2000. Section 302 of Indian Penal Code entails death penalty as the maximum punishment. Ilyasi was earlier charged under milder sections 304B (dowry death) of IPC and had moved the court against a decision of the police to form a fresh medical panel to ascertain the nature of his wife’s death. He had alleged that the formation of the medical board was illegal as it was being done after filing the chargesheet and framing of charges for the offence of dowry death.
His was a love marriage; both families were opposed to the relation; however, they got married in London in the year 1993 under the Special Marriage Act. They also had a nikah and Anju took the name Afsan. They lived in London until October 1994. Upon returning to India, Anju refused to live in Ilyasi’s house and returned to London after 6 months to her brother. Her brother Prashant, who was working in London at the time, later said that Anju was considering divorce at the time, but he convinced her to stay in the marriage. In April 1994, Ilyasi came to London, the couple reconciled and they returned to India after a month. The next year their daughter Aaliya was born.
During their stay in London, they had arrived at the idea of a television show, similar to the British show Crime Stoppers, which they named India’s Most Wanted. Initially, Anju was the anchor in the television pilots, but by the time the show went on air on Zee TV in March 1998, Ilyasi had become the anchor. Around this, Anju left again and went to her sister in Canada. India’s Most Wanted was initially planned for 52 episodes but Zee TV renewed it. Later Ilyasi moved the show to Doordarshan under the name Fugitive Most Wanted. Zee TV, which owned the copyright, continued to produce India’s Most Wanted and Manoj Raghuvanshi became the host. Ilyasi went to Canada in October 1998 to persuade her to return. IIyasi converted his software firm Aaliya Productions, into a private limited company and put 25 per cent shares in Anju’s name.
Anju returned in February 1999. They bought a new apartment at the same time in Mayur Vihar, in east Delhi, for Rs 1,500,000 and spent 10 months redecorating it. They moved into the house in December 1999. They planned to celebrate Anju’s 30th birthday on January 16 with a grand party. On January 10, 2000, Ilyasi called two police constables who were guarding his house at 11:15 pm; he told them that his wife had stabbed herself and asked them to call an ambulance. The policemen were there because Ilyasi had claimed that he was getting death threats from the underworld due to his show. Anju was taken to a nearby nursing home and later to the AIIMS, New Delhi, where she was declared dead on arrival. Anju Ilyasi had died from excessive bleeding from wounds, which were described as self-inflicted in the initial forensic report, ruling out murder.
The Central Forensic Science Laboratory report said that six fingerprint characters were found but 13 were required to match it to a person. Both the stab wounds were downwards and backwards, left to right on the accessible parts of the abdomen. There was no tearing on the T-shirt she was wearing. Ilyasi claimed that they had having an argument recently. He was playing with his child in another room, when Anju picked up an imported butcher’s knife and stabbed herself. Anju’s mother was in Canada at the time of death. Anju had visited her father hours before her death. Ilyasi moved into his in-laws’ residence ostensibly to help them with the grief. On January 17, police filed the case as a suicide.
Now after many years, Ilyasi got life imprisonment by the Delhi Court. On February 15, 2000, his wife’s sister Rashmi Singh, who ran a Montessori school, arrived from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. After month, Rashmi filed a police complaint saying that Anju was tortured for dowry and she was driven to suicide. On March 28, Ilyasi was arrested and charged with dowry death, mental harassment and destroying evidence. On March 30, the show’s scheduled episode did appear on the Doordarshan channel. Following the arrest, some of Anju’s family also changed sides. Rashmi and her mother Rukma quarrelled with their family and moved into a relative’s house. Rashmi claimed that Anju had an unhappy marriage for seven years. In 1997, during a visit, she saw Ilyasi assaulting Anju. She said that the apartment in which they were living was purchased with money provided by her. She also said that she had purchased the apartment for Anju’s safety, but later retracted the statement. On April 14, Rashmi Singh gave an undertaking to the Delhi High Court that she wouldn’t take the child Aaliya without the court’s permission. The court also asked her not to take the child outside Delhi. The petition had filed by Ilyasi’s parents that Rashmi might take the child to Canada. Then, Aaliya was two-and-a-half years old. On June 2, 2000, Ilyasi was granted bail by the Delhi High Court on a personal bail bond of Rs 200,000 and two sureties of the same amount. He was asked to submit his passport, not moved out of Delhi without permission, and not threaten the witness or tamper with evidence. On May 29, 2001, the Delhi High Court allowed Ilyasi to travel outside Delhi. He had sought permission to go to Mumbai for work. The court said he might do so after informing the police of his plans two days in advance.
Meanwhile, the doctor who carried out the post mortem did not deny the possibility of homicide. Sharma also told the court that even though Ilyasi claimed to snatch the knife away from Anju, neither his nor Anju’s fingerprints were found on the knife. Ilyasi argued that the doctor cannot be relied upon because he was later transferred from the mortuary department after allegation of unprofessional work. The session’s court rejected the plea for additional murder charges in February 2011 after finding no new material in the case. In an interview in 2012, Ilyasi said that the murder charges were being sought to take custody of his daughter, then 15. Anyways, the truth is yet not clear, and question still remains who killed Anju Ilyasi?
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