Life is not a bed of roses. It is a rather thorny existence for some. When tragedy strikes, it continues unabated like in the case of the Ba Ismail family hailing from Salalah in Hyderabad. BeyondHeadlines had reported a case of a double murder on 30th June 2020, in which a murder suspect Ahmed Bin Salam Ba Ismail, who was out on bail and accused of murdering his wife Fatima Al Saadi, allegedly murdered two of his own sisters – Razia and Zakira, injured another sister Noora and her husband Omer Ba Hasan. Then he went to a hospital to target another sister admitted for an illness but chickened out after seeing police at the entrance of the hospital.
Five police teams were formed to apprehend the culprit. The case took a bizarre turn on Wednesday when the police were alerted about the presence of the accused Ahmed Bin Salam’s bike at the back of his house. The police arrived at the scene and entered the house. They found the body of the accused hanging in the hall. It is suspected that the accused hanged himself, 36 hours ago, as the body was found reportedly in a decomposed state. The police claim that a picket was posted in front of his house. It is suspected that the murder accused scaled the wall of his house from the back to gain entry into the house.
It may be recalled that in my news report after the double murders, I had expressed my apprehensions about the state of the mental health of the murder accused thus:
Was the suspect sent for a mental appraisal to know about his mental health? He has turned out to be a psychic and mentally depraved case. In the future, bail applications must make submission of mental health certificates mandatory and there should be a periodic review about the same.
Unfortunately, my apprehensions came true! It seems that the murder accused was in a depression and engulfed by a heightened sense of hopelessness that possibly drove him to murder two of his own sisters apart from his wife before the double murder. It is not known whether he had a mental health appraisal done in prison.
It is significant to note that in August 2019, Central Prison, Chanchalguda, Hyderabad, had undertaken a comprehensive mental health screening programme of 1,250 inmates in three phases by clinical psychologist Prof. C Beena and her team. The 2-day programme on ‘mental health matters and understanding depression’ had identified 55 inmates suffering from depression.
It is not known whether the murder accused was one among those 55 identified as having depression. Even if he was lodged at Cherlapally jail, he must have been screened as the Telangana Prisons Department had initiated it as a state-level screening programme. Only a perusal of the records can shed light if Ahmed Bin Salam was screened and what was the follow-up action? Was he prescribed medicines? If so, was he taking the prescribed medicines regularly? Sometimes a prisoner may behave normally in the jail and show no signs of depression or any mental health issue. It just may be the case with Ahmed Bin Salam.
The top supervising police officers, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (South Zone) Syed Rafeeq and the Assistant Commissioner (Falaknuma Division) Mohammed Abdul Majid have tasks at hand. They obviously need to ask the police picket posted at the murder accused’s residence as to ‘why they did not choose to go at the backside of the house’? Were they sitting on the chairs all through the two days? The accused could have been apprehended immediately and the law could have taken its course rather than another gruesome ending. The able police officers need to overhaul the functioning of the Chandrayangutta Police Station, which could not notice the accused’s body allegedly hanging for 36 hours! The entire area needs to be beefed up with cameras and more patrolling to prevent crimes in the future.
Where are the social and voluntary organizations? Have the Ulema stopped preaching about virtuous life and avoiding sin? Salalah seems to be a sick neighbourhood. Illiteracy and alcoholism are major issues leading to crimes. School and college dropout ratio must be addressed immediately. Salalah falls under the Chandrayangutta Legislative Constituency represented by Akbaruddin Owaisi and in the Hyderabad Lok Sabha Constituency represented by Asaduddin Owaisi. Owaisi brothers would do well to represent assertively to the Telangana Government to allot funds immediately for the establishment of a mental health hospital and new schools. Alcohol addicts can be referred to as de-addiction clinics. Stop the proliferation of wine shops.
The police case will close with the suicide of the murder accused but there is no closure for the Ba Ismail family. We have no time to enquire about the well-being of our neighbours, family and friends. That is the tragic-comedy of our times. It is a collective failure of our society!