KARACHI: The unearthing of a shocking child abuse scandal in Kasur has brought back the haunted memories of a serial killer back in late 1990s who murdered 100 children in the Punjab capital after subjecting them to molestation.
Notorious Javed Iqbal had murdered 100 children and later used to dispose of the remains of the victims in acid. The children he had targeted aged between six and 16.
Iqbal was arrested on December 30, 1999, after he walked into the office of a local Urdu daily in Lahore and offered to turn himself in.
As he began writing his confession letter at the newspaper’s office, employees alerted Pakistan’s military authorities, who sent more than 100 soldiers to surround the building.
The horror of Iqbal’s killings emerged in December when he wrote an anonymous letter to police claiming he had been killing runaway children and dissolving them in acid for months in his home in a slum near the Ravi Road in Lahore. “I have killed 100 beggar children and put their bodies in a container,” he wrote.
His arrest came only hours after the capture, in the Punjab town of Sohawa, of two alleged accomplices who were trying to cash travellers’ cheques belonging to Iqbal.
After Mr Iqbal penned an initial letter of confession a month ago, police spent several days interviewing the families of missing children.
More than 80 were identified by relatives who either found their child’s picture or recognised clothing from among the piles found in Iqbal’s house.
According to his personal account published by the Daily Dawn in 2001, whatever Javed Iqbal did was aimed at luring boys. “He opened a video games shop — the first of its kind in Shadbagh — and would offer tokens to boys at reduced rates and in some cases free of cost. He would throw a 100 rupee note on the floor and watch the boy who would pick it up. Then he would announce that his money had been stolen and he had to search everybody. The ‘thief’ would be caught and taken to an adjacent room where he would be sodomised. At times the money would be given back to the boy as a “gesture of goodwill.”
The paper further reported that “When people stopped their children from visiting the shop, Iqbal set up a fish aquarium and later a gym, again to attract boys.”
He also set up an air-conditioned school (Sunny Side School) but it failed as nobody was willing to send children. He also opened a fair-price shop where items of daily use were sold at a price lower than the market value. That too lasted for a few weeks.
Serial killer ‘wanted 100 mothers to cry’
In his interview to a local English newspaper shortly before he was arrested, “I have no regrets. I killed 100 children. I was denied justice,” Javed Iqbal told.
“I could have killed 500; this was not a problem. Money was not a problem. But the pledge I had taken was of 100 children, and I never wanted to violate this,” he said.
Iqbal told the newspaper that he was motivated by a desire for revenge against police, who he said beat him when they detained him for questioning into allegations of sodomising children in the 1990s. He was never charged.
“I was so badly beaten that my head was crushed, my backbone broken and I was left crippled,” he said. “I hate this world.
“My mother cried for me. I wanted 100 mothers to cry for their children,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Forty-one-year old Iqbal was sentenced to death in March 2000 for killing 100 teenage boys. However in mysterious circumstances, Iqbal and one of his two accomplices killed themselves by taking poison at Kot Lakhpat Jail a year after in 2001.
Iqbal was in prison awaiting execution and was appealing against his sentence.
At his trial, the judge’s verdict caused controversy by ordering him to be strangled and then cut into 100 pieces, which he said was a requirement of Islamic law.
The judge had ordered the harsh and unusual sentence to be carried out in front of the victims’ parents. But the then government said the execution could not be carried out as it was against the law. However, before hanging Iqbal reported committed suicide in the prison.