KASUR: A 7-year-old girl who was raped and killed was laid to rest in Punjab province’s Kasur city on Wednesday night, ARY News reported.
The incident which shook the whole country and made headlines around the world was widely condemned and calls for justice echoed on social media and other platforms.
Protests in the Kasur soon erupted after the girl named Zainab’s body was found dumped in a garbage heap near Kashmir Chowk in Kasur on Tuesday. In light of initial postmortem, police said the minor has been sexually assaulted before her murder. The girl was strangled to death after being raped multiple times, police said.
The minor was a resident of Road Kot area of Kasur and was abducted on January 5 (Friday) while she was on her way to tuition centre, relatives informed.
‘Police only had tea and oranges’
Relatives and people of the area told ARY News that police neither cooperated with the neighbourhood teams formed to find Zainab nor acted promptly when provided with “proofs” by the girl’s family.
Residents of the area, who claimed to have formed vigilance teams to find Zainab, claimed that police only enjoyed “oranges and tea” in the neighbourhood and didn’t even cooperate with the vigilance teams.
Later, sources also revealed that the sketch of the alleged criminal released by Kasur police did not resemble the man who can be seen in the CCTV footage.
Zainab’s parents who arrived in their hometown Wednesday evening had urged Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to take notice of the incident and deliver justice.
“We will not bury our daughter until justice is served,” Zainab’s father had told media at the airport.
The victim’s parents were in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah when the girl went missing.
Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shehbaz Sharif removed District Police Officer Kasur and formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the Zainab murder case. The JIT has been ordered to complete investigation and submit its report in 24 hours.
At least two protesters were killed and two others sustained gunshot wounds in police action after they surrounded the District Police Officer (DPO) and District Coordination Officer (DCO) offices during protests.
Talking to ARY News, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed the suspect has been identified to a ‘great extent’. “Police is making all-out efforts to arrest the culprits,” he said.
In light of CCTV footage of abduction, an unidentified man could be seen holding the hand of minor victim.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri led the funeral prayers of Zainab Wednesday afternoon.
Following the funeral rites, Tahirul Qadri said that Zainab’s murder is an insult to humanity. He held Punjab government responsible for the incident and said that the leaders have no right to stay in power as they have failed to provide protection to the people.
Immediate arrest orders
Taking notice of the heart-wrenching incident, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued directives to police authorities for an immediate arrest of culprits involved in the heinous crime.
He also summoned a report from Inspector General (IG) of Police Punjab on the matter. “The culprits should not be able to escape punishment,” the CM urged.
He expressed grief with the parents of deceased girl and assured them that the justice would be provided at all costs.
CJP takes notice of incident
On the other hand, Chief Justice of Lahore High Court (LHC) Mansoor Ali Shah took notice of the incident and sought a report from police officers and sessions court judge in Kasur.
Hours after the LHC CJ announced his decision, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) too took suo-motu notice of the incident and ordered IG Punjab to present an inquiry report within 24 hours.
He strongly condemned the incident and announced justice to be made at any cost.
Incident sparks outrage among local people
Earlier, people took to the streets and staged a protest over the incident on Tuesday, blocking roads and closing nearby markets in Kasur.
The protest was called off after eight hours on Tuesday when police assured the protesters that all efforts would be made to arrest the culprits.
The protesters complained that at least seven minor girls were abducted last year and the authorities and the law enforcement authorities failed to arrest culprits in a single case.
Members of civil society and politicians have also demanded immediate arrest of the culprits and a thorough investigation of the incident.
Taking to twitter, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Arif Alvi voiced similar concerns and called for an action against the culprits behind the heinous crime.
On the other hand, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz called for an exemplary punishment to the culprits. “I hope and pray the culprits are not only brought to justice but made an example of,” she tweeted.