MARDAN -  Police yesterday arrested three relatives in the Asma murder case after receiving the forensic report.

Asma, a resident of Gujjar Garhi area of Mardan, went missing on January 13 and her body was found in a sugarcane field the next day.

District Nazim Himayatullah Mayar at that time had claimed the four-year-old girl had allegedly been raped before her murder. The police, however, denied it and said it would become clear after the receipt of forensic report.

Later, a joint investigation team was constituted under the supervision of District Police Officer Dr Saeed Ahmed to investigate the case.

The police had also announced Rs 500,000 for the person giving information about the culprits.

The district nazim claimed the postmortem report shows the victim had been raped. He said there were marks on the girl’s neck. Mayar said the police were trying to hide sexual assault on the victim.

The district nazim also alleged the police were trying to protect the provincial government by distorting facts. He sent images of the postmortem report to local reporters, but they were not clear.

Later, after the postmortem, the doctors sent the specimens taken from different parts of Asma’s body to Forensic Science Agency laboratory in Lahore to confirm the cause of Asma’s death.

PTI lawmaker Iftikhar Ali Mashwani as well as father, uncle and other relatives of the deceased had rejected the report that the minor girl had been raped before her murder.

Later, the police arrested more than 200 people from the surrounding areas. The police took blood samples of some of the suspected persons and sent the same to Lahore for matching.

According to TV channels’ reports, the swabs were matched and forensic laboratory sent the report to the police.

Sources said after receiving the report, the police arrested three relatives of the deceased and shifted them to an undisclosed location for investigation.

Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: The Punjab Forensic Science Agency on Tuesday confirmed that DNA from one of the suspects had matched the sample collected from the body of four-year-old girl Asma, who was found dead after being raped last month in Mardan.

“In a major breakthrough (in Mardan rape and murder case), DNA of one of the accused (persons) has matched the sample collected from the body of Asma,” according to an official handout issued on Tuesday.

Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan while confirming the development said that the KP government had forwarded DNA specimens of 145 persons to Punjab Forensic Science Agency Lahore for analysis.

“We are going to share test results with KP government, however, whereabouts of the accused are not being made public to avoid any hindrance in ongoing investigations of Asma rape and murder case” he said.

Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Tuesday, “The family of the deceased told media that they found the body from the field, police came a day later”.

“KP IG tried to dilute the case, the police cordoned off their home so that the family could not speak to anyone. No action was taken against any official of the locality for the negligence.”

Sana said, “They even tried to create the perception that she died of natural causes, and now you can see the DNA has matched.”

He said that 145 samples were sent by the KP police to Punjab Forensic Lab. “The lab has handed over the report to KP police. On the government level, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had directed to not get any political mileage, in contrary to that you can see what they have done in Kasur,” he claimed.

Asma was reported missing from the Gujjar Garhi area in Mardan on January 13 and recovered dead the next day from the nearby sugarcane fields.

Dr Ashraf Tahir — the director general of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency — had earlier said the DNA tests conducted on the samples obtained from the deceased’s body and the crime scene proved that the minor girl was sexually assaulted before her death.