The tragedy enraged the residents of Punjab’s border city who tried to enter a government building but were forcefully stopped by the police who used live ammunition against them, killing two people.
Zainab, 7, went missing while going to her tuition center on Jan. 5. Her body was found near her residence on Tuesday. Her postmortem report confirmed that she had been raped multiple times before being strangled to death.
It was the 12th incident of kidnapping, rape and murder of a minor girl in Kasur in the past year. As many as 10 incidents took place in the first six months of 2017. In all the cases, the victims’ bodies were thrown into buildings under construction near their residences.
The police have yet to arrest the killers, though people protested after every incident.
District Police Officer (DPO) Kasur, Zulfikar Ahmad, told Arab News that the police had investigated about 600 people but could not find those responsible.
The regional police officer, Zulfikar Hameed, confirmed that “12 rape cases were reported to the police in the last 12 months in Kasur.
“The DNA and the modus operandi in five cases of child sexual abuse are the same,” he said. “It is quite possible that these crimes were committed by the same person.”
District Kasur has a history of offenses against minor children. In 2015, hundreds of children were sexually abused in a small village 10km from the district headquarters. The perpetrators of these crimes videotaped their victims and blackmailed their families.
On Wednesday, people gathered in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office and chanted slogans against the police and the district administration. In response, the police opened fire on the protesters while they tried to enter the office, causing two deaths.
All political parties shared their grief after the incident. Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chairman Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri visited Kasur and led Zainab’s funeral prayer. Chaudhry Mazur, secretary-general of Pakistan Peoples Party’s Central Punjab Chapter, also attended the funeral and addressed the demonstrators.
Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif has replaced the DPO and ordered a probe into the incident. Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar has also demanded a report on the incident from the province’s Inspector General Police within the next 24 hours.
Zainab’s parents were in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah when the incident took place. Devastated upon their arrival home, they refused to bury their daughter before her murderers were apprehended.
The incident also shook the country’s military establishment, making Director-General Inter Services Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor tweet: “COAS condemns the cold-blooded murder of innocent Zainab. Responding to the appeal by the aggrieved parents to COAS directs immediate all-out support to civil administration to arrest the criminals and bring them to exemplary justice.”