Umer Rathore
Umer Rathore Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Every day after playing in the street, five-year-old Umer used to sit outside his house, on a pedestal close to the gate and wait for his father’s return.

“He was a darling of the street and everyone in the neighbourhood area adored him,” Gohar Shafique Rathore, a cousin of Umer Rathore, told Gulf News on Wednesday.

His kidnapping for ransom, and eventual murder, left everyone grieving, not only in residential colony of Dhok Jillani, Islamabad’s Bhara Kahu area, but also the rest of the federal capital.

His body was recovered from a house in the capital. Gohar, 31, said Umer was the youngest of six, three sisters and three brothers, and was in pre-nursery at Islamabad’s OPF school in Sector F-8/3.

On Saturday, December 21, Omar was sitting on the pedestal when a close relative picked him up in a car.

And then began the worst nightmare any parent can imagine.

According to Bhara Kahu police, Umer’s hands and legs were tied and sticking tape was wrapped around his face, which choked the boy to death. “His kidnappers had bundled the boy in a cupboard where he died,” said the investigation officer of the case.

Five persons, including a cousin of the victim, have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder case, he added.

According to Aurangzeb, the victim’s maternal grandfather, Umer never trusted strangers and when he disappeared at around 4.30pm on Saturday, no one noticed. However, when night fell, they got increasingly concerned. The entire neighbourhood started searching for the child and the local police was also involved.

Police started a combing operation in the green belts, as Bhara Kahu is a hilly area and there are several ditches close by.

However, by 8.30 Umer’s father, Mukhtar Rathore — an employee of Pakistan’s Oil & Gas Development Company (OGDCL) — said his son had not gone missing, but had been kidnapped.

The matter was already taken up by police and a case was then registered on the complaint of Umer’s father and separate teams were constituted. They carried out a door-to-door search. Sniffer dogs were also used to trace the whereabouts of the boy but without success.

During the geo-fencing of the area, some mobile phone numbers were detected that were registered in the name of one person but showed different locations. Calls were made between these numbers at the time of boy’s disappearance.

On Tuesday, the police picked up a man who confessed to kidnapping the boy, and also disclosed the location where the boy had been kept in the custody of one of his accomplices, only a 15-minute walk away.

He also identified three others, including a close relative and next door neighbour of the boy, who had transported the child from his house to the location.

However, fearing police’s door-to-door search, the suspects had already left the location, leaving the child locked in the cupboard. By the time the police reached, Umer was dead.

After autopsy, the body was taken for burial in the family’s ancestral village of Forward Kahuta, in the Haveli district of Pakistan administered Kashmir.