The 12th May 2012 marks the 10-year anniversary of an arson attack that caused the deaths of three generations of a Huddersfield family.
Just before 2a.m. on the morning of May 12th, 2002, a major fire at 40 Osborne Road in Birkby, Huddersfield, led to the deaths of eight members of the same family.
Muhammad Ateeq-ur-Rehman aged 18, Nefessa Aziz aged 35, Tayyaba Batool aged 3, Rabia Batool aged 10, Ateeqa Nawaz aged 5, Aneesa Nawaz aged 2 and 6 month old Najeeba Nawaz all died in the fire. 54-year old Zaib-un-Nisa died in hospital a week later on Sunday May 19th.
The investigation that followed the blaze became the largest multiple murder investigation that West Yorkshire Police had handled in nearly 30 years. In July, 2003, three Huddersfield men – Shakiel Shazad, Shaied Iqbal and Nasar Hussain were convicted for their part in the crime.
The grim date is especially significant as it also means that over 9-years have passed since then 20-year old Shahid Mohammed, who was arrested in the early days of the investigation escaped justice by failing to answer bail.
Now, on the 10th anniversary of the fire, police are renewing an appeal for information on his whereabouts.
Detective Superintendent Sukhbir Singh of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, who is leading the investigation said: “For a decade now the Chishti family have had to live with the fact that not every person connected to what happened in May 2002 has been brought to justice.
"The family have remained dignified throughout, but have had to live with the fact that so many lives were cut short by the fire: Babies should have grown up to be children, children into teenagers and teenagers into adults.
“This is not something that the police have ever been prepared to tolerate and we are as determined as ever to trace Shahid Mohammed. Ten years may have passed, but that is not a sign that we have given up on bringing the Chishti family the closure they deserve.
"I strongly believe that someone in the local community knows something about Shahid Mohammed that could help the Chishti family end their pain.
"I am appealing for that person to come forward and tell us what they know about Shahid Mohammed - a man involved in mass murder. They can also contact us anonymously, via Crimestoppers."
Mr Chishti, who is currently ill in hospital, but determined to see Shahid Mohammed brought to justice added: “This time of the year is particularly difficult and sad for the remaining members of our family. What makes it worse is knowing that one of the perpetrator's is still on the run. We can't have closure and move on until this man is caught and put in front of the courts.
“Life for the Chishti family is still a daily struggle and we would treasure the joy of being surrounded by our loved ones. On this 10th anniversary we would appeal to the community, particularly people who know Shahid Mohammed, to contact police with any information they have and turn this evil and dangerous criminal in to them.”
Cllr Mehboob Khan, leader of Kirklees Council, said: “This was a horrific crime, and shocked the whole community. But while many people have moved on, for the family involved this crime is still all too real and shattering for them. I back the police calls for people who know anything to come forward, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to allow the family to grieve properly for their lost loved ones.”
Whilst Shahid Mohammed was thought to have fled to Pakistan, he was also known to have strong links to people in London, Birmingham and Leicester.
Anyone who could help with this investigation should call Huddersfield Police via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, where a community action trust reward could be available.