Protests continued in Faisalabad’s Jaranwala tehsil on Tuesday following the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl whose body, bearing multiple torture marks, was found in a field two days ago. Shops and private schools remained shut in the area as a large number of civil society activists and relatives of the victim staged demonstrations. Lawyers in the area also boycotted court proceedings to take part in the protest. The protesters encircled the Jaranwala City police station and demanded justice for the minor girl.
While speaking to media, a medico-legal officer called the postmortem examination report — which was released Monday — confusing, saying it “doesn’t clearly state whether the child was sexually assaulted or not”. “The report seems to indicate that there were signs of sexual assault,” the medico-legal officer said, sharing suspicion that “the police may have wanted to bury the evidence”. “Most importantly, the report does not state the cause of the child’s death,” the officer added. The medico-legal officer said that DNA samples have been taken from the body and dispatched to the Lahore forensic lab.
No arrests have been made in the case as yet. According to father of the victim, his seven-year-old daughter had left her house around 2pm on Sunday but did not return. He said the girl could not be traced despite a desperate search and was later found strangled in the fields around 8pm with multiple torture marks. Police had registered a case under PPC sections related to abduction, assault and murder against the unidentified criminal(s).
Agitators, talking to reporters on Monday, had said it seemed like they were living in a jungle where they would have to protect themselves on their own, blaming police inefficiency and local politicians’ apathy for the situation. Several incidents and complaints of sexual assault have surfaced in Faisalabad over the last couple of weeks. The Punjab chief minister has formed a committee to investigate the reported alleged rape cases by paedophiles in Jaranwala. The committee has been tasked to expose the gangsters involved in the scandal, figure out the number of children and get other details including what action was taken by police when the first case was reported.
On Saturday, people from different walks of life including teachers, students and civil society had staged separate protest demonstrations on the second consecutive day against what they said was police failure to arrest the killer(s) of a female student of Government College University Faisalabad. The student of MA English was abducted a week earlier and her body was recovered from a canal. According to doctors, she was subjected to rape and violence before being strangled to death. Since the beginning of 2018, there has been a marked upsurge in the reporting of sexual abuse cases across Pakistan. The brutal rape and murder of Zainab Ansari in Kasur earlier this year in particular shocked the entire country, with Justice for Zainab becoming the rallying cry in a nationwide drive to end violence against children.