LAHORE - Police are grilling four persons including a 28-year-old cleric, said to be the prime suspect, in connection with the killing of a five-year-old boy, who was found hanging after being molested in a mosque in Green Town.

“We are working with different strategies and are close to make a breakthrough. There is a strong possibility that the culprit is among the four suspects who are being interrogated by police,” Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Amin Wains told reporters on Saturday.

A day earlier, Moeen’s bared body was found hanging from the staircase grill on the upper portion of the mosque - Masjid Baitul-Mukarram - located near Behari Chowk in the Green Town police limits.

The Lahore police chief visited the low-income neighbourhood on Saturday and assured the victim family that the killer would be brought to justice.

“Let me make it clear that the criminal involved in this horrific crime will not be spared,” Amin Wains said.

In an exclusive chat with this reporter, the top police officer reveals that the available evidences indicate the possible involvement of a 28-year-old man in this heinous crime. Identified as Qari Saqib, the man is said to be a Moazzan of the same mosque from where the body was recovered. “The investigators are convinced about the involvement of the cleric in the murder. But we are working to find undeniable forensic evidences to establish the case against the culprit,” the police chief said. We are not interested in “confessional statement” of the killer because we want to establish irrefutable circumstantial evidences against him so that he could be prosecuted aggressively in the court of law, he added.

It was also learnt that the swabs of the boy and other evidences were sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) for examination by the police. The police handed over the body to the family late Friday after the autopsy.

“As per the post mortem report, the boy was strangled to death after molestation,” said a source at the Jinnah Hospital’s morgue. Sources further revealed that police would decide the fate of the killer once the forensic evidences are ascertained. The police staged fake encounters to close the chapter of desperate criminals in the past. “This killer also deserves exemplary punishment. So, the possibility of another “encounter” could not be ruled out in the next 72 hours,” a police official commented, requesting anonymity.

Hundreds of protestors staged a demonstration against the brutal killing by putting Moeen’s body in middle of the main bazaar in Green Town. They chanted slogans against the police and the government, demanding the authorities to award “exemplary punishment” to the killer. The demonstration triggered huge traffic mess in the entire locality as the protesters blocked the road by setting the tyres on fire.

Meanwhile, the boy was buried in the local graveyard amid tears and screams as hundreds of local residents attended the funeral prayer of the minor boy.

Moeen along with other children was busy in collecting donations, a common practice ahead of Eid Miladun Nabi celebrations, in the low-income neighborhood when he disappeared mysteriously on Thursday evening. Following media reports, the Punjab chief minister ordered the Lahore police to hunt down the killer and ensure justice. Father of the boy, Muhammad Yaseen, told the police that the mosque, from where the body of his son was recovered, located a few hundred meters away from his house.

Poverty-stricken Yaseen, who is a painter, lives in a one-room rented house along with his wife and nine other children. Further investigation is underway.