Pakistan

Kasur incident shocks government, but not for first time

LAHORE: Though the incidents of abuse and murder of children had been reported in Kasur since long, the public reaction on Wednesday to Zainab’s brutal murder shook the provincial government, forcing it to employ all its resources, including the expertise of the Counter Terrorism Department, to hunt down the culprit(s)

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, home secretary, IGP, Additional IGs of Special Branch and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) met in the Civil Secretariat to look into the matter.

Official quarters said that 10 children, half of them girls, had been raped and murdered in Kasur in a short span of time. Police have had arrested scores of suspects. DNA tests of 20 of them were conducted but the results did not match the samples taken from the victims’ bodies.

Officials said two persons were killed in encounters and they were stated to be the rapists and killers. But the latest rape and murder of the eight-year girl proved that the perpetrator was still out there.

Top-level huddle discusses situation

Kasur DPO Zulfiqar Ahmad earlier told reporters that this was the eighth girl who fell a victim to the gory crime. Police have so far interrogated 5,000 suspects and got conducted medical test of 67 of them.

Official sources in the home and prosecution departments said though the major scandal of child sex abuse in Kasur surfaced in 2015, the menace continued in the bordering city afterwards. Many a parents of the victim boys refrained from approaching police for fear of ignominy.

But, the official said, the menace started taking an ugly turn after rape and murder of children, including girls, started. This led to detailing of experts in using forensic tests as evidence for advising police on how to make flawless cases to ensure punishment to the accused. “But the culprit is still at large,” a senior official said.

After the government got alarmed over the high incidence of sexual assault on young boys and girls and their murders in Kasur district, it was declared that sociologists and psychologists would be engaged to dig out reasons for such heinous crime.

“Since there is a need to find out sociological roots of this crime in Kasur, we are engaging Punjab University’s Dean of Social Sciences Dr Zakria Zakir (now provisional VC), requesting him to find out why people in the district bordering India are indulging in sexual assault on minors and their murder,” Commissioner Abdullah Sumbal had told Dawn after a meeting held on the issue two months ago.

Mr Sumbal had said the crime had actually never stopped in Kasur district. Initially, such incidents were reported in the Kasur city. Later, more were reported from Pattoki, bordering

Okara district and Ganda Singhwala, located at Pakistan-India border. Around eight boys were also murdered after criminal assault in the last one year, he had said.

During the meeting it was decided to introduce an office of the Child Protection Bureau in Kasur, engage a clinical psychologist from the Kasur DHQ hospital to counsel the culprits and victims, to activate the dormant social welfare office, to teach parents how to protect their children through LHVs and polio and dengue teams, etc.

The deputy commissioner was asked to notify a district coordination committee comprising all the departments concerned for further deliberations on the issue.

The Kasur DPO was asked to appoint a focal person for a close liaison with the prosecution department so as to ensure speedy punishment to the culprits.

The Lahore commissioner who was sent to Kasur to help the deputy commissioner control the situation on Wednesday, said the administration had been taking appropriate steps to address the issue. The DC had established an office of the Child Protection Bureau in the district courts and a PC-I for its own office had also been approved.

But, he said, child rape and murder was a criminal offence which could be handled only by police. “We have taken administrative steps but we have no role in controlling crime,” he said.

He said the Kasur DC was holding a conference on the issue when the body of the latest victim girl was found.

Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz told Dawn later that it appeared that a single man was involved in all the cases of child rape and murder. He said the CTD was not included in the operation but its expert opinion was sought earlier in the day.

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