LAHORE - It was a densely populated neighbourhood right in the middle of Johar Town’s E-I Block but it seemed like a wilderness. The scribe had been told by a shopkeeper that the house had a black gate. It was the only black gate in the street so it could be spotted many meters off. It was a two-storey building. As this scribe pushed the doorbell, a deep sense of horror about the place came over. There was no one and so the bell had to be pushed again. There was big China Lock clamped on the black steel door.

“There is no one in the house,” said a young bespectacled man standing right outside the next house. This scribe asked him again if there was anyone inside the house.

“There is no one inside, all of them were murdered. All eight of them. The bodies have been taken away to Gujranwala for burial.” He said coldly and tried to look around, as though to shrug off the disturbed look in his eyes.

The scribe asked if he was the neighbour and for how long he had been living there.

“I have been living here for the past 20 years. They were three brothers; two of them were married; they had kids. They were well off. One of the brothers was a road contractor. We were just acquaintances but I had never noticed anything abnormal with any of the family members at all until that terrible night when all of them were murdered in cold blood. It was until morning when one of their relatives came to drop the marriage card. First he pushed the bell and then as he pushed the door, it creaked open as it was unlocked. He stepped inside but came out screaming like a lunatic. We all thought he had gone mad until we went inside, saw the dead bodies and the blood and for a moment went gasping for breath.”

As he was talking to this scribe found that the black glass window of the room next to the black gate had been broken though the steel frame was still there. One could easily look through.

“It was this room (drying room) where Nazir Iqbal used to live. He was a cancer patient, a fragile man, 28-years old, who is thought to have killed all the family members but I don’t really believe he did that because he was always so nice when he would pass by. He was the ugly duckling of the family and even though his brother was paying for his cure, he was looked down upon. He was a chemical engineer and he could have easily mixed up the chemicals with food, perhaps he sprinkled chemicals on them when they were in sleep and then smashed their heads with a hammer. But I don’t believe a bit of that. How can a weak cancer patient overpower seven members of his family and then smash their heads and bodies with that big hammer. I was up during the night studying and I did not hear any scream or any shout. But the only thing that baffles me is that all seven bodies had been given the chemical and their bodies mutilated except that of Nazir. So that is the reason he is thought to have committed suicide after killing all of them.”

The ceiling fan inside the room was still on. The smell of blood and the chemicals was so strong in the air, you could almost feel it instantly. There was a brown three seat sofa along the wall; a wooden-shelf full of crockery; a gourmet polythene bag was lying on the sofa containing the white chemical that had been used to knock the family members unconscious. Another polythene bag was lying on the floor containing the same chemical. A green bucket was lying on the table; it had been used to mix the chemicals as the white poisonous substance was lying all around it.

A young boy was loitering about the street. He was a close friend of one of the boys murdered.

“The last time I saw Fahad (seventeen-year-old), he was smiling and going with his sister somewhere. He was a good boy and I miss him. He was my class fellow at an academy” The boy walked back crestfallen.

Other neighbours and people living in the street were shocked too. Almost all of them said they were certain Nazir did not commit the gruesome act. Some of them were of the view that one of the deceased brothers who was a road contractor, was a rich man and hence there could be some motive behind the killings.

An octogenarian living in the door right across the street, a former government secretary had this to say: I often saw Nazir in the street asking people to kick start the bike for him as he could not even do that. How could he subdue the entire family. You have seen that Toyota Belta, it has blood splattered on the front light and not only that, clumps of Nazir’s hair have been found in the hands of one of his Bhabhi’s hands suggesting she tried to grab the killer by the hair when he was slaying her.

That means there was some struggle and hence in that event you cannot expect a weak man like Nazir to carry out the killings. Also the door was open when the relative came to hand over the marriage card which again suggests that it was done by some very clever killer. Besides, these houses you see these are like closed boxes and the killer knew this.”

Other people in the area who had interacted with Nazir and other family members were of the same opinion, though a final opinion at this stage, however is divided. Police officials investigating into the case including Omer Virk of the CIA suspect it was Nazir who was the culprit. “We found powder on his hands and feet as tried to walk around the house. There were no torture mark on his body also. And evidence suggests he took pills to kill himself in the end.” A detailed DNA report is yet to come out though. But his view is corroborated by one of the relatives of the victim family who says that Nazir at times used to say he would one day murder all his family. “At times he would behave as though he was a psycho; he would say terrible things about slaying his family.” The relative said.

But whatever the truth, life would never be same for denizens of that street. The look of fear that the neighbours had was terrifying in itself; clearly they could not stand the idea that all this happened to their neighbours who had been living peacefully all along. Only children were playing in that street and though from time to time they kept looking at the broken window, it was with fear that turned their eyes away.