A ten-year-old girl, Farishta of Mohmand, district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was missing since 15th May 2019 from Islamabad. On 20th May her mutilated body was recovered from the forest of Shahzad town, Islamabad area. Investigations revealed that her body was violated brutally before the murder.
Her brother recounts his ordeal and attitude of Pakistan police:
It was approximately 5 PM. I closed my vegetable shop and returned back home. I enquired regarding whereabouts of my younger sister (Farishta), mother told : she had gone to neighbor’s place for playing. She was not found at neighbor’s house, kept searching for her but couldn’t find. Around 10 PM I went to Shahzad town, police station but police refused to file an FIR. Kept standing there till midnight, then the only complaint was lodged. For the next four days, I kept on getting humiliated. On the fifth day, I approached SHO Sahib. SHO told that looking at the circumstances it appears that she has gone willingly somewhere with someone. Is it possible for a 10-year-old to go out willingly (without informing family members)?
This unmasks the irresponsible and utterly ruthless face of Pakistani police. The family brought out that police refused to register a first information report (FIR) till 19th May and, even then, a proper search was not initiated. Body of Farishta was discovered by locals and not the police. The body was moved to Poly Clinic for post-mortem. Family and relatives placed the body on the road at Taramari Chowk on 21st May in protest against the alleged police inaction. They articulated that timely police action could have saved the life of the 10-year-old girl.
The case bears astounding similarity to the high profile rape-and-murder case of seven-year-old Zainab, who was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house in Kasur on 4th January 2018. Her dead body was found in trash five days later. Zainab case needs to be revisited to put things in correct perspective.
Zainab Ansari was an innocent Pakistani girl who was on her way to a Quran recital when she was abducted. She was later found raped and murdered, which incited protests and outrage in Kasur, Punjab. The perpetrator was identified as Imran Ali, who was determined to be a serial killer responsible for seven previous murders in the area.
The grave incident took place when Zainab’s parents had gone to Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah and Zainab was living with her uncle. On 4th January 2018, while going to a Quran tuition class which was very close to her house, she went missing. A complaint was lodged by, Muhammad Adnan, Zainab’s uncle with the Kasur District Police Office.
Ansari’s family members demanded access to CCTV video footage. It emerged that she was accompanied by an unknown bearded man in white clothes and a jacket, holding her by the hand and walking on Peerowala Road in Kasur. Body of Zainab was later found in a waste material heap in Shahbaz Khan Road on 9th January 2018. Post-mortem established that she had been raped and strangled to death. It was further revealed that she endured captivity and torture before her murder.
There were large protests in Kasur and other major cities of Pakistan. During clashes with the police, two people were killed after they broke into a police station. Four policemen who allegedly opened fire at protesters were arrested and interrogated.
Echoes and Reverberations
Deeply pained about the brutal murder of a 7-year-old girl in a child molestation case. Those societies that cannot protect its children are eternally condemned. Not going to rest till the perpetrators of this dastardly act are apprehended & given severest possible punishment under the law.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai wrote on Twitter,
This has to stop. [Government] and the concerned authorities must take action.
Imran Khan, the Prime minister of Pakistan and a former cricketer, tweeted,
The condemnable & horrific rape & murder of little Zainab exposes once again how vulnerable our children are in our society. This is not the first time such horrific acts have happened. We have to act swiftly to punish the guilty & ensure that our children are better protected. pic.twitter.com/9f7OM3hYT1
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 10, 2018
The condemnable & horrific rape & murder of little Zainab exposes once again how vulnerable our children are in our society.
Cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a political rival of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, demanded the local government be replaced, emphasizing that it has no right to remain in power after the killing of Zainab Ansari.
Kiran Naz, a news anchor on Pakistan’s Samaa TV, hosted a 10th January bulletin with her young daughter on her lap as an act of protest. At the Sindh Assembly, artist celebrities Ayesha Omer, Nadia Hussain, Faysal Qureshi, and others met on 12th January with Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, demanding laws and justice to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Mahira Khan, Ali Zafar, Imran Abbas, Mawra Hocane, and Saba Qamar, as well as former cricket players Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, tweeted about the incident, condemning the brutal rape and murder, while also trending the hashtag #JusticeforZainab.
Shahbaz Sharif announced the arrest of a suspect, Imran Ali, in a press conference on 23rd January 2018. He confirmed that polygraph test and the DNA of the suspect matched with the samples with least eight minor girls, including Zainab, who were raped and murdered in within the same neighborhood and that the suspect is a serial killer. Imran Ali was a 24-year-old mechanic who lived in Zainab’s neighborhood. He had even taken part in protests against Zainab’s murder. Imran Ali confessed to his crimes. Police also found the jacket worn by the suspect, which was seen on CCTV while he was taking Zainab with him.
On 17th February 2018, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore Central Jail found Imran Ali guilty of raping and murdering Zainab Ansari. The court handed him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a seven-year jail term, and Rs. 3.2 million in fines. He was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Zainab and twelve other underage girls and was executed in the early morning of 17th October 2018, at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail. Action in case of Zainab was still prompt from Pakistani standards, perhaps because her father is a wealthy and influential businessman.
Coming back to Farishta’s case, the family demanded the authorities to suspend the Station House Officer (SHO) and station’s staffers.
Action by Reluctant Authorities
Three individuals, including the prime suspect, involved in the alleged rape and murder of the minor girl have been arrested, according to police. The arrested suspects hail from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Waqaruddin Syed, the deputy inspector-general (DIG) of operations, suspended the SHO and directed Umar Khan, the Superintendent of Police (SP) to present a report in this regard on immediate basis.
National Assembly Shaken Up from Deep Slumber
Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser on 21st May 2019, met with the family of the deceased girl. Speaking to media afterward, Qaiser vowed that the case would be investigated at every level and the culprits would be brought to justice. The speaker said all concerned officials have been summoned on 22nd May, the parents of the deceased girl would also be summoned and all their reservations would be addressed.
“The girl has to be served justice in any case,” he added.
Other girls who met the same fate in the past in Pakistan are listed below.
- Iman Fatima
- Noor Fatima
- Ayesha Asif
- Sana Omar
- Kainat noor
All these girls were in age bracket 4-11 years. Farishta’s rape and murder is not the first incident of this kind nor would it be the last one. Pakistani society seems to have plunged down to an all-time low and hit the abyss of immodesty and barbarism.
Let us hope in Imran’s Naya Pakistan, police will become more sympathetic to the victim’s family and at least file an FIR immediately. Is it too much to ask for?
22 May 19/Wednesday Written by Naphisa