–LHC CJ says will not tolerate delay in case, orders police to submit details of all child sexual abuse cases in Kasur
–Normalcy returns to Kasur as traders end strike amid joint patrolling by police and Rangers
–Punjab govt appoints Multan RPO as JIT head following reservations over previous head’s Ahmadi faith
KASUR/LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ordered the Punjab Inspector General of Punjab (IGP) to arrest the culprit responsible for 7-year-old Zainab Ameen’s abduction, rape and murder within 36 hours, as normalcy returned to Kasur on Friday after several days of protest against the gruesome incident that has shocked the entire country.
Markets opened in Kasur after being shut for at least two days as traders announced an end to their strike while traffic began moving on roads that had been blocked by enraged residents against the police’s failure to end incidents of rape and murder of young children.
Zainab, a resident of Road Kot area of Kasur, had gone missing on January 4 when she ventured out of the house. Her body was found in a garbage pile near Kashmir Chowk five days later.
Police and Rangers personnel continued to patrol various areas of the city on Friday to prevent any incidents of violence. When a group of residents began blocking a main road, they were dispersed by police, which has orders to not use force and only detain demonstrators.
LHC GIVES 36-HOUR DEADLINE:
Meanwhile, LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, while hearing a petition filed by Advocate Shaheem Pirzada, expressed surprise that despite reports of earlier incidents of similar nature from Kasur, none of the cases were brought to the court.
The CJ ordered the police to submit details of all the cases of child sexual abuse that had taken place in the area, adding that he would also demand a report on the cases from the Kasur session judge.
The Punjab IGP insisted that the police “were working sincerely” to catch the criminal. He told the court that one person’s DNA had been found in six cases of assault. The CJ warned that the court would not tolerate any delay in the case, at which the IGP assured him that the culprit would be caught.
The hearing was adjourned until Jan 15.
JIT HEAD CHANGED:
Moreover, the head of the joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the case was changed on Friday.
According to a government notification, Additional IGP Abu Bakar Khuda Baksh has been replaced by Multan Regional Police Officer Mohammad Idrees.
Zainab’s father Muhammad Ameen had expressed reservations over Khuda Baksh’s nomination because of his Ahmadi faith.
Ahmadis, a persecuted minority in Pakistan, were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment in 1974 during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Four senior officers, including Sheikhupura Regional Police Officer Zulfiqar Hameed, were appointed as the JIT’s members. On Thursday, the team’s scope was expanded as three more senior police officers were included.
On Friday, members of the JIT reached the Kasur DPO office and held meetings with the local officials.
‘POLICE CLOSER TO SUSPECT’:
In a related development, Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told a press conference on Friday that a clue has been obtained that will allow investigators to identify the suspect. He was referring to CCTV footage of the suspect.
He said that the forensic science laboratory will magnify a photograph of the suspect for the identification process. “We are closer to the suspect now,” he added.
The spokesperson said that the investigations were not being based on hope, but rather on a scientific process and are being conducted by the police and JIT.
He promised the media that all details of the investigation will be made available, adding that a daily press briefing will be held.
“We understand the passion, sorrow and anger of the protesters,” the spokesperson said regarding the protests that had broken out after Zainab’s murder.
The culprit had slit her wrists and choked her to death, Dunya News quoted from the medical reports of the minor, Zainab, on Friday.
She had marks of torture on her nose, neck, and other parts of the body, the autopsy report stated. The samples collected from her clothes and body have been sent to forensic lab in order to conduct further investigation.
Riots had broken out in Kasur after Zainab’s body was found on Tuesday. Residents had agitated against perceived police inaction over the rape and murder of the child.
A day later, the protests turned violent as about 200 protesters ─ armed with sticks and stones and led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah ─ clashed with police. At least two people died of gunshot wounds on Wednesday. Six people, including four policemen and two civil defence personnel, were arrested.
“A law and order situation had emerged over the past two days,” the spokesperson added. He said that the police had no right to shoot at protesters. “They should not have fired under any circumstances,” he said.