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At least two people killed and several others were injured on Wednesday as police reportedly opened fire on citizens holding protest against the rape and murder of eight-year-old Zainab in Kasur.
Seven-year-old Zainab, a resident of Rod Kot area of Kasur, was kidnapped on her way to a tuition centre on January 05. Her body was found at a garbage pile near Kashmir Chowk after four days. Initial postmortem report revealed the minor was strangled to death after being raped for multiple times.
When the incident occurred, the minor’s parents were in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.
Riots erupted in Kasur on Wednesday as residents agitated against perceived police inaction over the alleged rape and murder of the minor. Two people were killed by gunshot wounds as enraged protesters armed with sticks and stones attempted to storm the deputy commissioner’s office and were repelled by police. Several others were injured, hospital sources said.
Television footage showed a policeman firing into a crowd before being told by a colleague to fire into the air.
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.
Police said that DNA samples from the victim’s body had been dispatched for forensic testing. Police dubbed the murder a serial killing, but was not ruling out rape.
Regional Police Officer (RPO) Kasur Zulfikar Muhammad confirmed that the girl was strangled to death. He told media that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed the forensic lab to expedite the process for Zainab’s autopsy. “Naturally, there is a certain amount of time that the processing takes …. there is a certain amount of time that the lab takes,” he added.
Soon after Zainab’s parents returned from Umrah, her mother told reporters outside Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, “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 that have stood by us. The culprits have even been identified but the police has not made any progress,” he claimed. “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.
The father also appealed to chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of the incident and Army Chief General Bajwa to provide justice.
Responding to the appeal, chief justice of Pakistan took suo motu notice and summoned all officials along with relevant record besides directing Inspector General of Police Punjab to submit report within 24 hours.
Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Syed Mansoor Ali Shah also took notice of the incident and sought report from Kasur district and sessions judge and the DPO.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also directed the forces to provide all possible assistance to law enforcement agencies for the arrest of killers involved in the killing, ISPR said in a statement.
“The culprits must be taken to task and will be awarded exemplary sentence,” army chief said while severely condemning the incident.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif took notice of the tragic incident of murder of the innocent girl as well as firing at the protesters. He removed DPO Kasur from his post and constituted a joint investigation team headed by Additional IGP Abu Bakar Khuda Bakhsh to probe the incident and submit report within 24 hours.
The funeral prayer of Zanaib was later offered amid tense environment in the area. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the funeral prayer which was led by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri.