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RAPE AND MURDER: Riots Erupt In Pakistani City Of Kasur After Brutal Rape And Murder Of A 7-Year-Old Girl

Pakistani residents carry the body of a girl during her funeral in Kasur in Punjab Province on January 10, 2018, following her rape and murder.
At least two people were killed when a protest against the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl turned violent in Pakistan on January 10, police said, as a city scarred by child abuse erupted in fury. Paramilitary forces were called to the city of Kasur near the Indian border, Punjab provincial police said. A senior police official told AFP hundreds were protesting the killing, which also prompted a deluge of outrage on social media. / AFP PHOTO / GHAZI AHMED

Kasur had last attained local and international notoriety in 2015 when a gang of paedophiles running a child sex ring was busted in the city. The gang had allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted at least 280 children in the area, had blackmailed the families of the victims since 2009, and even sold video clips and images of the assault online.

KASUR, Pakistan – Riots erupted in Kasur on Wednesday as residents agitated against perceived police inaction over the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl named Zainab.

The post-mortem report of the child confirmed suspicions that she was raped before being murdered, police officials told Pakistan’s DawnNews.

The brutal murder of the girl, the 12th such case to occur within a two-kilometre radius of the city over the last year, ignited a wellspring of anger among the city’s residents.

Two people were killed by gunshot wounds as enraged protesters armed with sticks and stones attempted to storm the deputy commissioner’s office and clashed with police. At least two others sustained bullet injuries.

Television footage showed a policeman firing into the advancing mob before being told to fire into the air. It is not clear yet whether the policeman was responsible for the deaths or injuries.

Punjab government in the evening said six personnel, including four policemen and two civil defence personnel, who allegedly opened fire at the protesters have been arrested.

The LHC CJ, Punjab CM, Senate, chief justice of Pakistan and the army chief have taken notice of the case

Zainab, 7, had gone to a religious tuition centre near her house in the Road Kot area last Thursday (Jan 4) from where she is believed to have been abducted. Her parents had been in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage), according to her family, and she had been living with a maternal aunt.

Soon after her abduction, her panicked family had received footage showing her walking with a stranger near Peerowala Road.

On Tuesday, a police constable deputed to trace the girl recovered her body from a heap of trash near the Shahbaz Khan Road.

Police said the girl seemed to have been killed four or five days earlier.

A first information report had been registered against the disappearance of the girl on Jan 5, with the victim’s paternal uncle as the complainant in the case. Murder charges were added to the FIR on Jan 9, after the victim’s body was recovered.

Zainab’s parents returned from their pilgrimage on Wednesday but they were unable to attend their child’s funeral prayers. As reporters surrounded them outside Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport, her grieving mother said: “I have nothing to say, I just want justice for my daughter.”

Zainab’s father claimed that police “did not cooperate” with them: “It is our friends who have stood by us,” he regretted.

“We will not bury her until we get justice,” he asserted at the time. “We are now afraid of letting our children leave the home. How was our child kidnapped from a busy market?” he asked.

Police earlier told Dawn that DNA samples from the victim’s body have been dispatched for forensic testing. Police at the time dubbed the murder a serial killing, but said they were not ruling out rape.

Regional Police Officer (RPO) Kasur Zulfikar Muhammad confirmed that the girl was strangled to death. He told the media that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has directed the forensic lab to expedite the process for Zainab’s autopsy.

“Naturally, there is also a certain amount of time that the processing will take; there is a certain amount of time that the lab takes,” he said.

As word got around, traders shuttered their shops and staged a protest demonstration. Scores of other people also gathered at Steel Bagh Mor near the hospital and protested with the girl’s body in the middle of the road. They also threw traffic out of gear by burning tyres on Ferozepur Road and chanted slogans against police and local parliamentarians for their alleged apathy.

People from other parts of the country took to social media to share their anger and outrage over the murder using the hashtag #JusticeForZainab.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani suggested introducing appropriate legislation and stricter legal implementation in order to prevent such incidents in the future.

“All institutions must work together, and implementation of laws must be strengthened,” he said.

Rabbani said that when the Kasur child abuse scandal surfaced in 2015, he had raised concerns that the outrage would die down within a few days, which is why it is necessary that the government take long-term measures to ensure the safety of children.

Laws for the protection of children must be made in line with international laws, he said. Existing laws that deal with crimes against women could possibly be expanded to include crimes against children, he suggested.

Kasur had last attained local and international notoriety in 2015 when a gang of paedophiles running a child sex ring was busted in the city.

The gang had allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted at least 280 children in the area, had blackmailed the families of the victims since 2009, and even sold video clips and images of the assault online.

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