Dubai: Less than two months after an Indian woman jumped to her death from a high-rise along with her 11-month baby boy, Dubai has been shaken by another suspected murder-suicide.
This time the narrative is far more grisly. A high-flying company director allegedly ends his life after killing his two children. The eldest girl, seven, is found dead in a bathroom and the younger one, barely three, reportedly wrapped in a blanket in her bed.
Floating in a pool not far from the Al Waha Community villa was the man’s body.
What provoked Pakistani Khurram Iqbal, 39, to take this extreme step remains a mystery. Until tragedy struck on December 1, the Iqbals appeared to be a happy family. Iqbal had scaled great heights with three promotions in eight years while his wife led an active social life in Dubai’s elite circles.
Even on the fateful night she was attending Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s concert at the Dubai Cricket Stadium.
Those who knew the family are shocked beyond belief.
“I am numbed. I have no words to describe how I feel,” said a friend.
Similar sentiments prevail at Iqbal’s workplace. “He was one of the best managers I have worked under, always calm and composed. The best thing I liked about him was that despite his success he remained self-effacing and grounded. I remember the friendly banters we exchanged during India-Pakistan cricket matches,” said Ahamed Shaheen, 36, from India.
The company’s HR director Preeti Khanna said Iqbal routinely exceeded work expectations. He began as operations manager in August 2006 but was on the board of directors when he died.
“He was a pleasing personality and an astute operations man,” she said. Born and raised in Dubai, Iqbal earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of London. He managed the multinational company’s core operations and oversaw a team of account managers. He was also responsible for special projects and had a decade of experience in the outsourced call centre industry.
Curiously, a week before he died Iqbal survived a major car accident on his way to work. A colleague recounted how his vintage Mercedes was damaged so badly it had to be written off. Iqbal, however, escaped with minor injuries.
“As fate would have it, he died just seven days later,” she said.
Mark Thompson, the head of primary at the Raffles World Academy where Iqbal’s elder daughter studied in grade two, remembered her as a popular, bright and wonderful kid.
“Our thoughts are with the family. We are in the process of informing our community that this has happened and advising all of our teachers on how to deal with the questions that children will ask,” he added.
The community pool where Iqbal’s body was found has been temporarily shut and there is a sense of disquiet in the posh locality. A street party scheduled for the week has been cancelled, said a neighbour.
The doorbell of the D-block villa went unanswered when XPRESS visited on Tuesday. A four-wheel drive and a dining chair stood outside in the double car park.
A family member declined to comment when contacted over the phone.
Friends said Iqbal’s wife was in deep shock and had been sedated.
She is believed to have met Iqbal at their first job in Pakistan where they fell in love and got married. She later gave up work to raise their daughters.
An official at the Pakistani Consulate told XPRESS: “The bodies have been sent for autopsy. Once the report is out, the cause of the deaths will be ascertained.”
So what exactly happened in the house?
Police suspect Iqbal killed his daughters by strangling them and then dunking them in a bathtub. A preliminary forensics report also established the girls died due to suffocation.
But many questions still remain unanswered.
It’s still not clear what took place in the villa on Sunday after Iqbal and his brother-in-law finished watching a late evening football match on TV.
An Ethiopian housemaid who was also present in the house went to sleep around 10.30pm, according to reports.
The bodies were discovered by Iqbal’s wife when she returned from the concert after midnight.
The bodies of the children were said to have been found in two locations — one in the bathtub, another on the bed.
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