7-year-old girl, Zainab was abducted, brutally raped and murdered in Kasur, Pakistan.
Her body was found at a garbage pile near Shahbaz Road. According to the initial postmortem report, the minor was strangled to death after being raped multiple times.
Zainab had gone to a religious tuition centre near her house in the Road Kot area last Thursday, January 4th, from where she is believed to have been abducted. Her parents had been in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage), according to her family, and she had been living with a maternal aunt.
Soon after her abduction, her panicked family had received footage showing her walking with a stranger near Peerowala Road.
A police constable deputed to trace the girl recovered her body from a heap of trash near the Shahbaz Khan Road. Police said the girl seemed to have been killed four or five days earlier.
A first information report had been registered against the disappearance of the girl on Jan 5, with the victim’s paternal uncle as the complainant in the case. Murder charges were added to the FIR on Jan 9, after the victim’s body was recovered.
Zainab’s parents returned from their pilgrimage on Wednesday. As reporters surrounded them outside Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, her grieving mother said:
“I have nothing to say, I just want justice for my daughter.”
Zainab’s father claimed that police “did not cooperate” with them: “It is our friends who have stood by us,” he regretted. “We will not bury her until we get justice,” he asserted. “We are now afraid of letting our children leave the home. How was our child kidnapped from a busy market?” he asked.
Police said DNA samples from the victim’s body have been dispatched for forensic testing. Police have dubbed the murder a serial killing, but are not ruling out rape. Further information will be available once an autopsy report is issued.
Regional Police Officer (RPO) Kasur Zulfikar Muhammad confirmed that the girl was strangled to death. He told the media that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has directed the forensic lab to expedite the process for Zainab’s autopsy.
“Naturally, there is also a certain amount of time that the processing will take; there is a certain amount of time that the lab takes,” he said. It generally takes 24-48 hours for an autopsy to take place and a report to be issued.
The recovery of Zainab’s body on Tuesday had ignited protests and a shutter-down strike in the city.
As word got around, traders shuttered their shops and staged a protest demonstration. Scores of other people also gathered at Steel Bagh Mor near the hospital and protested with the girl’s body in the middle of the road. They also threw traffic out of gear by burning tyres on Ferozepur Road and chanted slogans against police and local parliamentarians for their alleged apathy.
Two people were killed by gunshot wounds as enraged protesters armed with sticks and stones attempted to storm the deputy commissioner’s office and clashed with police. At least two others sustained bullet injuries.
People including users from other parts of the took to social media to share their anger and outrage over the murder using the hashtag #JusticeForZainab.
Nadia Jamil, a famous TV performer deplored the silence of the administration every single time an incident like this happened and questioned the acceptance of child abuse in the society.
In her Twitter message, she stated, “Raped, killed, found in trash of Qasur. Her parents performing Umrah, will come home for her funeral. NOW look at this & decide what you want to use your voice on social media for. How long will we b silent abt child abuse? How many Zainabs will it take?”
Calling on the law enforcement agencies to apprehend the culprits, social media is rife with demands of publically punishing and hanging the monsters that dared commit such a crime.
One Twitter user wrote, “I can’t control the tears, honestly I feel like forgetting about QAANON and people should find the culprit and kill them slowly and painfully as possible”.
Another Twitter user Manahil Shafiq called for the culprits to be publically hanged so that a precedent was set for one and all. She states:
”A similar incident occurred in Iran last year where a seven-year-old, Atena Aslani was assaulted, killed and dumped, to which the Irani government openly hanged the assaulter in front of a large crowd.This is what we need, no awareness campaign or words ever help.”
Another twitter user lamented the priorities of country’s ruling class whilst stating, “… its pakistan where a political leader marriage is more imp than a murdered child”
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah appealed for calm, saying the provincial government had “taken notice of the case”.
“People need to keep their emotions in check and not aggravate the situation,” he advised.
The law minister appeared optimistic that the perpetrators would be arrested within the next eight to 10 hours, and said that the culprit seemed to have been an acquaintance of the family.
He added that “a child’s safety is its parents’ responsibility.”
Rights activist Farzana Bari observed that people “feel unsafe” and “have lost all trust in state institutions”.
“These people that are protesting do not have a leader, they are not being led,” she pointed out. They are all protesting because they feel unsafe.”