Police responsible for Zainab’s murder, says LHC

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  • LHC says rape and murder of  Zainab could have been prevented if police had taken action in 2015
  • LHC CJ says Punjab govt, police not serious as SC issues notice to AG, Punjab IG

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday remarked that if the police had taken action in 2015 ─ when the first case against a serial killer was reported in Kasur ─ the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab could have been prevented.

Zainab, who was the 12th minor victim of rape and murder in Kasur since 2015, went missing on January 4 while heading towards a relative’s home. Her bruised body was found a few days later in a garbage dump in the city.

The news shocked the entire country with #JusticeforZainab becoming the rallying cry while violent protests broke out in Kasur.

At least four agencies — the Counter Terrorism Department, the Intelligence Bureau, the Special Branch and the Punjab Forensic Science Agency — have been seized with the case and each agency has arrested suspects separately while investigating the matter.

LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had taken notice of the incident.

During Monday’s proceedings, the Punjab’s Forensic Science Agency director general submitted a report, which stated that DNA tests had confirmed that Zainab was raped and murdered by the same serial killer who was responsible for other similar cases in Kasur, to a two-member bench of the high court.

When asked, the director general told the court that the first case was reported in 2015. He added that at the time, a joint investigation team had been formed and DNA tests were conducted.

Last year, it became clear that a serial killer was behind the cases, the DG added.

“Your investigations should have started in 2015,” the LHC chief justice said.

“We were trying to find evidence to base our investigation on,” the court was told.

“If you had taken action at the time, Zainab’s case could have been prevented,” the chief justice said.

The additional advocate general, also present during the hearing, told the court that 108 cases of rape are pending before the sessions courts in Kasur. He added eight of the most recent cases have not been traced as yet.

“These cases should be heard on a daily basis,” the chief justice said, as he sought Zainab’s complete medical reports.

When informed about the non-appearance of the Punjab police chief, the LHC chief justice remarked that the Punjab government and police appear non-serious in the case.

Later, the chief justice formed a special court and ruled that child abuse cases should now go to the court, which has to conduct daily proceedings.

The case was then adjourned until January 17, with the court directing authorities to submit details of similar cases against girls in Kasur and action taken against the suspects.

Monday’s hearing was conducted as the 36-hour deadline given to police by the high court to arrest the culprit behind Zainab’s murder lapsed without any breakthrough in the case.

REPORT FINDINGS:

During Monday’s hearing, IG Nawaz submitted a report before the bench which detailed efforts made by the police to recover Zainab after her uncle reported her missing on Jan 4.

The report stated:

  • Search operations were launched by teams headed by subdivisional police officers and eight station houses officers after Zainab was reported missing.
  • A “proclamation was made immediately on [the] local cable network”.
  • 1,100 suspects have been interrogated.
  • During the search operation, under-construction houses were raided. “After hectic efforts, the dead body of Zainab was found… 0.5 kilometres from her house.”
  • The postmortem examination, carried out by the Women Medical Officer, showed that Zainab had been raped and sodomized prior to her death.
  • Police personnel were deputed to go over CCTV footage from cameras installed on roads in the “area of suspicion”.
  • “In the end, the IT team managed to work out video footage of an unidentified suspect carrying the abducted girl in a remote area of Peru Wala Road, Kasur.”
  • However, because the quality of the footage was poor, the Punjab Forensic Science Agency was approached and a “slightly better picture of the suspect was developed and has been widely distributed”.
  • The joint investigation team probing Zainab’s case “had already made efforts in [an] investigation of [a] similar nature since September 2017”.
  • This included linking up 7 previous cases with the same suspects since 2015 and the detailed interrogation of more than 200 suspects.

The report also contains data on the cases of assault against minors in Punjab during the past year:

  • In 2017, 515 children in Punjab were assaulted and over 500 criminals have been arrested.
  • 137 cases of assault were registered against female minors.
  • 135 criminals have been arrested in cases concerning female minors.
  • In the past year, 15 female children under the age of ten were murdered after being raped. In these cases, 19 criminals have been arrested and
  • Also in the past year, 10 male children under the age of 10 were murdered after being raped.

ANOTHER CCTV FOOTAGE SURFACES:

In the latest development in the Zainab rape case, a new CCTV footage has surfaced which captures the last moments of the seven-year-old before her brutal murder.

The new video footage shows her alleged kidnapper beckoning her to come with him, after which the little girl, donned in a frock and leggings, walks towards him.

SC TO TAKE UP CASE:

The Supreme Court on Monday fixed the hearing of a suo motu notice case pertaining to the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur for Tuesday.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, will hear the case. The Punjab inspector general of police, and provincial law officer have been issued intimation notices to turn up along with reports on the matter for the hearing.

Earlier, the IGP informed the Supreme Court that so far 227 people have been interrogated in the said case.

The province’s top police official also submitted the medical examination report conducted by the Women Medical Centre (WMC), containing details of the victim’s body. The postmortem report, shared with the apex court, said that the Zainab’s body was partially covered in mud and her remains were decayed. The child had also suffered multiple injuries including bone fractures.

“A large number of CCTV footages acquired from various cameras installed on nearby streets were examined by a number of officials when the IT team managed to rummage through and pull out the video footage of the unidentified suspect taking Zainab to the remote area of Peru Wala Road in Kasur,” the report read.

The report also contained details of the measures being taken by the provincial police to trace the culprit. It also informed the court that a sketch of the suspect has been prepared and the announcement of prize money of Rs10 million for anyone who can reveal relevant information about the whereabouts of the suspect.

As per the report, on January 4 at 7:00pm, the minor aged between seven to eight years went for her Holy Quran classes along with her cousin Muhammad Usman, on Road Kot of the city. Usman reached the house of the tutor but the girl did not, said the report.

It added that the tutor presumed that Zainab may have gone back home but was later informed that she had never made it back. Upon finding out about her disappearance, the complainant Muhammad Adnan along with his brother and nephew started searching for her.

Subsequently, the complainant informed rescue 15 at 9:30 pm that he has strong suspicions that his niece had been abducted by unidentified men. Consequently, a case was registered under section 363 PPC, said the report.

The IG informed the court that all efforts were being made to apprehend the suspect. He also assured the court that no stone would be left unturned in order to track down the culprit, adding that the investigation would be led by Punjab’s additional IG investigations.

Furthermore, a high-level meeting was held here on Monday with Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in the Chair, in which Punjab IG briefed about the progress made on the tragic incident that occurred in Kasur.

Addressing the meeting, the chief minister directed that the criminal involved in the murder of Zainab must be brought to the clutches of law as soon as possible and police teams should further this case with hard work so that the criminal could be arrested quickly.

He said that justice will also be dispensed in the case of two persons who died due to the firing of police, and every possible support will be accorded to the bereaved families.

Punjab Minister Ayub Gadhi, Punjab government Spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, chief secretary, ACS (home) and officials concerned attended the meeting whereas the JIT head Multan RPO, Sheikhupura RPO, and Kasur DC and DPO attended the meeting through a video link.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Police is inadequate; incapable and incompetent for all the provinces and not just punjab. This is what happens when nepotism remains unchecked. According to one journalist on tv; the rapist is very much dead so that he doesnt expose his handlers.

  2. Punjab police is only meant to guard Sharif family, Punjab police Sharif’s personal servants.
    Sharif’s and Sharif’s police are responsible for all these murderers.

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