My brother Farooq Ali who was a PhD Scholar in the UK was murdered on March 11 last year in Ramada hotel Islamabad A number of my fellow Kashmiri brothers and sisters as well as done justice loving local from Islamabad converged on the National Press Club, Islamabad followed by a protest outside Ramada by Wyndham on Club Road, a 4* international hotel and one of the top 3 hotels in Islamabad. With me was my 74-year old Mother, Inayat Begum – Farooq was her favourite child. The son who would always defend her and the son who expected that she along with his father would soon join him in his beloved Pakistan.
Exactly 1 year ago, her 44 years old son – and my brother – Farooq Ali was killed in Room 331, ironically a VIP room, at this Ramada Hotel.
Over that 1 year, my family – myself, my sister Yasmin and my elderly parents (our Father is 85 years old and had had another heart attack in 2021) – remained in Pakistan trying to use the very institutions set up to deliver Justice. Nothing close to Justice has been delivered as yet. Islamabad Police despite personal pleadings and court action – including a Court Order – refuse to investigate properly or thoroughly. This is not just corruption as people are so eager to use as an explanation for the lack of action – for sure, there is corruption, and it reaches all the way up to the head of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police. To Akbar Nasir Khan, the Inspector General of ICT Police. But once an issue reaches usually the British High Commission, the MPs in UK, the Foreign Secretary in the UK, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and still no proper investigation takes place but worse ICT Police use every dirty trick to malign my brother and myself (aided and abetted by the British High Commission), then the only conclusion one can draw is that there was a cover-up and that this was not just corruption but actually an act of Treachery.
Of course Farooq Ali was my brother and I do not expect others to feel the same love I had for him. But those who have experienced a vicious loss will surely understand our pain. And there are many in Kashmir who have had loved ones murdered. Farooq was the lynchpin of our family – the one who, amongst many other practices, advocated education for girls – there were not many females in the 1990s who were sent to a private grammar school and then went on to Cambridge University to study Medicine followed by a PhD in Neurosciences at Imperial College London. He himself had studied Biochemistry at Imperial College London and also had a Masters degree in the same subject. In January 2017, I was the first female Cambridge-educated Kashmiri with a PhD to become a Consultant Neurologist in the UK. My sister was a banking lawyer – again supported by Farooq. Our achievements would have been impossible without his support.
The passion of Farooq Ali for Kashmir and Pakistan was something that started young – he loved both. He wrote freelance on political issues under a pen name (again not regurgitated pieces but about ideas or comments on key issues) and had previously set up a Kashmiri website that was repeatedly hacked. Over the last couple of years, his focus had been his tennis and a fiction book – the sequel to his Harry Potter.
Our demand for a fair and thorough investigation was never unreasonable. In a country where they arrest first and ask questions later, it is peculiar that not a single hotel person has been arrested or even questioned. Believe me, the staff and management have told so many proven lies that there should have been easily at least 6 – 7 arrests. The ICT police assume that everyone thinking they are incompetent and corrupt will allow them a “get out of jail” card – the 3 police officers named in the High Court petition (demanding a trial) had 50 years of experience between them. They did not conduct a post-mortem at the outset although I have my doubts that a common poison would have been used. They did not do fingerprinting and nor did they send the foam on my brother’s face, the blood for toxicology (sending it only for DNA) or the last food eaten for forensics. This was wilful and deliberate destruction of forensic evidence. Not one single lie from the hotel has been questioned. And the 3 hotel security men monitoring my brother’s room between 4-5am, a security round like no other? Well, according to the SSP Farhat Kazmi, that’s just not important and I should “accept what’s in his mind”. I have no intention of doing that.
So on March 11, as we drove to Islamabad, the tears did flow many times. Exactly one year ago, on 11th March 2022, at 0905 my brother had taken a bowl of cereal and at 0920 a glass of milk from the Executive Lounge he frequented. At 10 20 he took snacks from the mini-bar service and his door closed. My brother is never seen again. 5 days later, his body is “discovered” in the room. For 5 days, no room service was offered, no water was given to a VIP guest, no housekeeping was done and bizarrely this big business didn’t chase its own bill that had been outstanding. Well I encourage people to go stay there for free and see their response. See how many hours – let alone days – they will leave you alone.
After the Press Club, we went to this Ramada hotel – the management were obnoxious as ever and arrogant – they think the case is ‘closed’. It is not. But they seem arrogantly assured about this. They were also quick to call their friends in ICT Police. Ramada should understand one thing – we will be back and we will keep coming back. The chant of “Ramada Killers” should continue to echo. Just how many bribes will they keep paying? The truth will ultimately come out and they have been warned – you are living on borrowed time. That hotel must be closed down.
Farooq Ali was incredibly bright and intelligent but more than that, his study of culture, his analytical skills and ability to argue his case were some of the strengths that are missing in our people. Farooq’s intellectualism is rare unfortunately in our People. My almost 1 year stay here has highlighted just what Kashmir and Pakistan have lost. And that makes the pain all the more acute and grief never-ending. Farooq’s murder was orchestrated by those whose enemy are the People of Kashmir and the People of Pakistan. My brother was a Patriot. For him to be killed on Pakistani soil hurts me the most. I have to believe – for my sanity alone – there must be enough decent, loyal people in Pakistan and Kashmir who say that killing Patriots is not acceptable. Those that commit these acts of Terror against the Son of Kashmir – most likely for the proverbial “30 pieces of silver” – need to be brought to account. For National Security if nothing else.