"I cannot see the last moment of my daughter's face"
A Pakistani-Australian man allegedly murdered his teenage wife and dumped her body in a bath of acid.
Arnima Hayat’s remains were found inside the apartment she shared with partner Meraj Zafar in North Parramatta, in Sydney’s west, on January 30, 2022.
Officers arrived at the property at around 4:30 pm and found Arnima’s body naked face down in the bathtub.
Twenty litres of hydrochloric acid was allegedly found nearby.
According to police, CCTV footage showed Zafar buying a 20-litre tub of hydrochloric acid from Bunnings Northmead at 10 am on January 30.
He allegedly returned at 3 pm to buy another four containers of acid.
Zafar used the same credit card and was seen driving a white tip truck.
Police say he murdered Arnima sometime between 12 pm and 5 pm.
Hours before her body was found, apprentice builder Zafar allegedly called his parents, saying they had “a very bad fight” and she was “turning pink”.
They then told him to call an ambulance before calling the police themselves.
Shortly after Arnima’s body was found, police launched a citywide search for Zafar.
He reportedly went to his parent’s house, where his mother noticed bruises on his body.
Zafar then told his parents he had a fight with his wife.
Zafar allegedly called the police and told them he was going to turn himself in. He handed himself in at Bankstown Police Station the following day.
Detectives are still unsure exactly when and how Arnima died, with Zafar believed to have told police that his four months of marriage was “generally happy with normal arguments”.
But he said that both sets of parents were unhappy about the relationship and did not attend their wedding.
Arnima’s parents said they were struggling to cope with the horrific way their daughter died.
They said they will not be able to see their “daughter’s beautiful face” before laying her to rest in a traditional Bangladeshi funeral – because the only part of Arnima’s body not destroyed was one of her feet.
Father Abu Hayat said: “I cannot see the last moment of my daughter’s face because of what was done.”
Mother Mahafuza Akter added: “My beautiful daughter … my daughter, so pretty, I cannot see my daughter’s face.”
The victim’s uncle Abu Saleh said the family was “waiting to see my niece’s body (to get it back) from medical”.
He explained that in Bangladeshi tradition, it is customary for the family to see the face of the deceased after they are wrapped in a cloth shroud.
Arnima had been close with her parents but ceased contact with them in October 2021.
Two weeks ago, she rang relatives in the United States sounding upset.
Mr Hayat said: “She told her uncle that he (Zafar) drank alcohol, but she did not want to because she was studying medicine.
“She wanted to be a surgeon and save lives.”
The couple said Zafar had been Arnima’s first boyfriend and he had convinced her to distance herself from her family.
Mr Hayat said: “And everyone, her girlfriends too, she stopped seeing.”
He added that he had an unpleasant confrontation with Zafar in 2021.
Arnima went from being a sociable teenager to being withdrawn.
She was at the University of Western Sydney, studying at the faculty of medicine.
Before meeting Zafar, Arnima would take her parents and eight-year-old sister out each week.
Mr Hayat said:
“Every week before she met this guy, we go outside and have food and enjoy being a family.”
“She loved KFC, iced coffee, ice cream and Gong Cha tea.”
Mr Hayat moved to Australia from Bangladesh in 2006. He was followed by his wife bringing a young Arnima. Their second daughter was born in Australia.
Mr Hayat said his daughter was “loving and never had any trouble” but then she met Meraj Zafar, whose family is of Pakistani origin.
He added: “I do not know how they met.”
When he sought advice from the police, he was told “nothing can be done because they are in love”.
Relatives in New York revealed that Arnima told that “sometimes this guy is good” but that she had experienced bad times with him.
Arnima’s relationship with Zafar led her to cease contact with her family. This was around the same time she moved into the apartment with Zafar.
Mr Hayat said his daughter “also lost contact with her friends”.
He said: “We want her to be remembered as a kind and beautiful girl. I hope we will get justice.”
Zafar did not apply for bail. It was formally refused in Bankstown Local Court.
He was remanded in custody and will appear at Parramatta Local Court on April 5, 2022.