(Trinidad Guardian) Two days before celebrating her 75th birthday, national award winner Haseena Ali was found dead at her home in Freeport yesterday. The house was gutted by fire.
However, preliminary investigations have revealed her death may not have been accidental. But investigators will await autopsy results on Monday to determine the actual cause of her death.
According to a police report, shortly around midday residents at Palm Drive reported seeing smoke emanating from the upper floor of her split-level concrete house. A passer-by ran into the house where he found Ali lying in a pool of blood.
Fire officers from the Couva Fire Station responded to the scene and were able to extinguish the blaze. However, at about 7 pm the fire re-ignited and up to late last night firefighters were attempting to out it.
Police said one theory is that Ali was attacked, beaten and killed by assailants who then lighted a stove and started a fire in an attempt to burn the house down with her body and any evidence with it.
An investigating officer told the T&T Guardian that Ali was already dressed to attend Friday prayers (Jumu’ah) at the Masjid Un Nur in Carapichaima, adding her handbag and cellphone were already in her vehicle which was still parked in the garage of her house at the time it caught fire. In fact, when neighbours saw the fire they were able to drive the vehicle onto the roadway.
Police said they also saw a lot of blood smudges and signs of a struggle inside the house during their preliminary searches, which led them to believe Ali was fatally beaten to death.
Investigating officers said they were also told two men were seen running from the scene before the fire started, but could not say for sure if they were the suspects or if they were running for help.
Ali’s brother, known as M Y Ali, told the T&T Guardian that he was very shocked and saddened by his sister’s tragic death.
“We really want to know what happened and how she died but only the autopsy will tell. I cannot say any more on it, but just to add that crime is out of control and the government over the years and the police are to be blamed for not cracking down on criminals,” Ali said outside her home last evening.
A close friend of Ali, who wished not to be identified, said she told him on Monday that she wanted to help some people by giving them work to do on her house. It is believed Ali was contacted at about 9 am yesterday by the workmen.
A member of the masjid said just on Sunday Ali had participated in a watermelon eating race at the mosque’s Sports and Family Day.
“She was a very kind-hearted and pleasant person, always smiling and always going all out to give charity and to help people in need. Her heart was a heart of gold. She was too sweet of a person,” the masjid member said.
Ali had a long and illustrious career in tax auditing, administration and policy. She was a retiree of the Board of Inland Revenue, where she served as commissioner and chairman from 1995 to 2003 and was also a member of the Salaries Review Commission. Ali was also a former treasurer of the Islamic Ladies Social and Cultural Association, finance director for the Network of NGOs and a former National Gas Company’s board of directors.
She was awarded the Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold) for “outstanding and meritorious service in the public services” in 2012.
Ali has lived in Freeport for over 30 years and was one of nine siblings. She was a mother of a 37-year-old daughter who was said to be very distraught over her mother’s demise. Ali’s daughter was said to be at the home of a female relative resting after being overwhelmed by her mother’s death.