Dubai: Police said that they have found bodies of three missing boys who were murdered after alleged rape.
The incident happened in Kasur district located some 52km south of Lahore in Punjab province of Pakistan. The murders and rape of these children are an uneasy reminder of the horrific rape and murder of six-year-old girl Zainab Ansari case, which lead to widespread outrage and protests across the country. Zainab’s body was found in a trash heap in Kasur in January 2018.
It was not immediately clear how the three children were killed but Kasur District Police Officer (DPO) Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani said that the police suspected the victims were sexually assaulted before being murdered. More information will become evident once the postmortem examination of the remains is completed, he added. Police have sent the decomposed bodies for forensic investigation and DNA tests.
The latest case has sparked protests across the city of Kasur and neighbouring areas as markets were shut down on Wednesday while angry protesters also pelted stones at the police station and blocked traffic demanding for justice and immediate arrest of culprits.
According to police, decomposed bodies belong to three of the four children who were reported missing during the last couple of months in Kasur.
Incident sparks protests
According to reports in Pakistani media, protesters have shut down shops and transport in some areas while the trade association of the city and the local bar association had called for a strike after the bodies were discovered by authorities on Tuesday.
According to the police, 12-year-old Imran of Rana Town had gone missing on June 1, eight-year-old Ali Hasnain and nine-year-old Salman in August, and eight-year-old Faizan on September 16.
Only Faizan’s body was recovered in full, whereas the two other bodies were found in a decomposed state. The bodies were recovered from sand dunes in the Chunian Industrial Area of Kasur district.
Twelve- year-old Imran of Rana Town was still missing as of Wednesday.
What the police chief says
In a statement, the inspector-general of police (IGP) for Punjab, Arif Nawaz Khan, said there seemed to be similarities in the incidents of child abduction and murder, Geo TV reported.
A special team — led by the superintendent of police (SP) for investigation in Kasur, Quddus Baig — was dispatched in this regard and the IGP has directed them to present an initial report in six hours.
Further, forensic teams have collected samples and evidence from the various crime sites.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of the children’s deaths and sought a briefing from the provincial police chief.
Harsh reminder of Zainab’s rape and murder
The latest incident has reminded people of heinous rape and murder case of six-year-old Zainab in 2018.
The brutal nature of the crime had sparked immediate riots in Kasur — in which two people were killed — while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children, Dawn news reported.
Imran Ali, who was convicted in Zainab’s rape and murder case, was executed nine months after the child’s death.
Asked why child abuse cases continue to repeatedly surface in Kasur, DPO Qaisrani said there was a need to “study the broader aspect” of why such incidents are still taking place despite the fact that Zainab’s killer and rapist was executed for his crimes.
“Police are playing its part and will continue to do so, but we will also have to check the other (societal) factors,” he added while speaking to DawnNewsTV.
Child abuse cases in Pakistan
A report by the NGO Sahil had revealed earlier this year that reported cases of child abuse increased by 11 per cent in year 2018 compared to 2017, with more than 10 children suffering some form of abuse every day in Pakistan last year.
The report, titled ‘Cruel Numbers 2018’, had found that cases of child sexual abuse specifically witnessed a rise of a significant 33 per cent when compared with the reported cases of 2017.