The parents of a seven-year-old girl who was abducted and raped before being murdered in a northeastern Pakistani city have demanded justice, as news of the incident sparked violent protests demanding better policing.
The body of the young girl, Zainab, was discovered in a heap of rubbish in Kasur on Tuesday. She had disappeared on January 4 after leaving her house to go to a tuition centre.
Her parents, who were in Saudi Arabia performing Umrah (holy pilgrimage) at the time of her abduction, returned to Pakistan on Wednesday morning, hours after Zainab’s funeral prayers were held.
Upon arrival at Islamabad airport, Ameen Asari, the father of the girl, claimed that the police “didn’t do anything” after his relatives reported the disappearance of his daughter.
“My relatives and neighbours told me that the police used to come, have food and leave,” he told local media. “While they didn’t do anything, my friends and family spent day and night looking for my daughter,” added Ansari.
“In Pakistan, security is only for leaders and we are just common insects.”
Zainab’s mother, standing behind Ansari outside the airport, said: “I don’t know anything. I don’t know what happened. I just want justice. I have lost Zainab. I don’t have anything to say.”
Zulfiqar Ahmed, police chief, told local media that an autopsy had suggested that the seven-year-old was raped before being strangled to death at least five days ago.
The incident led to angry protests in various parts of Kasur on Wednesday morning that resulted in at least two deaths and several injuries.
Local TV footage also showed police officers shooting at protesters to disperse them.
This is what happened in Kasur a while ago, strait firing on protesters by Police and Punjab’s Law minister says “aap logon ko ishteal dila rahay hain”. I’m speechless !! #JusticeForZainab #ReportingFromKasur pic.twitter.com/GlGSheU0hn
— Iqrar ul Hassan Syed (@iqrarulhassan) January 10, 2018
There have been a dozen similar incidents in Kasur in the past year, in which minor girls were kidnapped, raped and killed, Ahmed, the police chief, said.
Last February, a seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped and strangled to death.
“All the cases have resemblances. It looks like a lunatic serial killer is behind these incidents,” said Malik Ahmed Ali, provincial government spokesman, citing an initial inquiry.
Pakistani authorities, including the country’s chief justice, chief of army staff and the Punjab chief minister, took notice of Zainab’s murder and directed officials to submit a report within 24 hours.
Zainab’s murder has sparked outrage around the country.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 10, 2018
In 2015, Kasur was in the international headlines when hundreds of videos of child molestation surfaced, and police later arrested several members of a racket involved in selling child pornography to websites in Europe.
Most of the victims were under 14, including a six-year-old boy, according to officials.
On Wednesday, the hashtag #JusticeForZainab was trending in Pakistan, where large numbers of people were expressing their anger and shock.
Heartbroken to hear about Zainab – a 7 year old child abused and brutally killed in Kasur, Pakistan. This has to stop. Gov and the concerned authorities must take action. #JusticeForZainab
— Malala (@Malala) January 10, 2018
Zainab was kidnapped on 4th January, Chief Minister took notice when social media, media, civil society and general public raised voice. #JusticeForZainab
— Amir Yusuf Chaudhry (@ThePreEminent) January 10, 2018
Look at Zainab, how innocently she is walking ,holding the hand of that bloody murderer. My heart is sinking.She was just7 #justiceforzainab
— Farah Yousaf (@fara_yousaf) January 10, 2018