KASUR-The killing of three protesters by the police during a demonstration held in the wake of the murder and rape of a girl here created panic in Kasur district on Wednesday.

Earlier, three protesters were shot dead while several others were injured by the police as seven-year-old Zainab was abducted and strangled after rape. The funeral prayers of the victim was offered here on Wednesday.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri led the funeral prayers. Thousands of people from all walks of life including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secretary information Ch Manzoor Ahmed, Municipal Committee (MC) chairman Ayaz Ahmed Khan and vice chairman Ahmed Latif Chaudhry attended the funeral prayers.

On the occasion, PAT chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri during a media talk said that the government had failed to protect lives and properties of the people. He said that Punjab government and police had treated protestors the same way as Model Town victims. “Those who have killed innocent people will have to pay for their cruel acts,” he maintained. The PAT chairman also condoled tragic death of the girl with her heirs and prayed to the Almighty to grant them courage and strength to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.

The minor’s death stirred violent protests across Kasur district. The business community observed a complete shutdown in the district. People, enraged over the incident, came on roads and blocked roads for traffic in protest. They reached outside the office of Deputy Commissioner (DC) Saira Umar; chanted slogans against the authorities for their negligence and demanded early arrest of the culprits. The police had locked the gates of the DC office but the protesters broke into the office.

DC Saira Umar asked the police to stop the protesters at which Saddr police SHO Malik Tariq, who was present at that time, had allegedly ordered the policemen to open fire on people. Resultantly, two persons were killed while seven others sustained critical injures in firing by the police.

The deceased were identified as Muhammad Ali, 45, resident of Kot Amir Baz Khan and Shoaib, 22, resident of Kot Islam Fateh Din. They were shifted to mortuary of Kasur District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital. But people took the bodies out of the mortuary; put them on road and protested against the administration. The angry protestors also vandalised the public property and pelted policemen with stones. The protestors also captured at least 12 policemen and subjected them to physical assault. The cops saved their life by fleeing from the scene. The violent protests and traders’ strike had crippled life in Kasur. People demand early arrest and punishment to murderers of the girl and also the officers including SHO Saddr police Malik Tariq, A-Division police SHO Imran Saeed and DC Saira Umar on whose orders the police shot dead two citizens.

Talking to The Nation, they said that the DC was very rude to citizens. They alleged that she had never given importance to any serious issue in the district and did not bother to come out of her office. They added that she had never visited bereaved parents of the girls who had been murdered after rape during the last few months. They vowed to continue protest until Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif comes to Kasur. They also demanded Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa take note of the incident.

When contacted, DC Saira Umar did not attend the call despite repeated attempts. A call was also made to Kasur District Police Officer (DPO) Zulfiqar Ahmed who in his comment said that the culprits would soon be in the police noose. He vowed to spare no effort for arrest of the culprits, adding he would not sit idle until the culprits are brought to their logical end. He said that murderers of the minor girl did not deserve any leniency and would be made an example for others.

Regional Police Officer (RPO) Sheikhupura Range vehemently condemned the incident, saying he himself was monitoring the investigation process and the girl’s parents would be provided with justice. He vowed to ensure early arrest and stern punishment to the culprits.

Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif took note of the incident and formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) under the supervision of Additional Inspector General of Police Abu Bakr Khuda Bakhsh. The JIT which included officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had been ordered to complete inquiry within 24 hours. The CM also demoted Kasur DPO Zulfiqar Ahmed to Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for his failure to recover the girl who had been missing for past several days. Zahid Nawaz Marwat had been posted as new DPO in Kasur district.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa took note of the incident. The chief justice sought report from the Punjab police chief within 24 hours. The army chief condemned the brutal murder of the innocent girl. He directed immediate and all-out support to the civil administration for arrest of the criminals so that they could be awarded exemplary punishment.

Upon their return from Umrah, the girl’s parents said that their daughter was no longer alive but they would not sit idle until they are provided with justice. They threatened to commit suicide in front of the chief minister’s house if they are denied justice.

“We were at Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah when the incident took place. We heard the news of our daughter’s abduction which made our days restless and nights sleepless. We hadn’t been able to eat or drink anything for several days,” they told The Nation. They blamed the police for not cooperating in finding their daughter. “Had the police acted immediately, the culprit would have been caught,” said Zainab ‘s father. Parents said that they would not bury their daughter until her killer is arrested.

It is to be noted that nearly a dozen minor girls have so far been raped and strangled in Kasur after abduction whose culprits are still beyond the police noose.

KASUR: Bodies of protestors shot dead by police during demonstration against rape and murder of a girl on Wednesday.–Staff photo

A critically injured protestant being shifted to a hospital.–NNI